JACKSON, Wyo. — Members of the Jackson town council expressed their frustration recently with the US Forest Service over a lack of options pertaining to expansion at Snow King Mountain.
On Monday the council opted to send a letter United States Forest Service related to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement: Snow King Mountain Resort On-Mountain Improvements Project. In the mind of at least one councilor, the EIS list of alternatives was hardly an ala carte menu.
“We didn’t get any alternatives. No, yes, yes, yes…is not a reasonable range of alternatives as required by the National Environmental Policy Act,” Stanford complained at a town meeting Monday. “It’s a menu where you are supposed to be given a choice. You can have the veggie option, or you can have shrimp, beef, or chicken. But instead, largely, we got a range of alternatives that said you can have veggies or you can have grilled beef, roast beef, or boiled beef.”
Johnathan Schechter, along with other electeds, expressed a desire for more time beyond the customary 45 days to digest the 255-page draft environmental impact statement, though he added he was not trying to “gum up the works.”
Schechter ultimately was the lone vote of dissent when the council decided they would fire off the letter to Tricia O’Connor, BTNF Forest Supervisor.
Mayor Pete Muldoon said he wanted to see more about a possible road alignment or new road up Snow King.
Representatives from Snow King Mountain, as well as the Town of Jackson, which has a “cooperating agency status” in the USFS decision-making process, await a list of what can and can’t be done on the Bridger-Teton National Forest lease the ski resort operates under.
A requested zipline seems an all but given considering the town signed off that it would be okay with them, and the Department of Agriculture (USFS) continues to act under an Obama-era mandate giving ski resort leaseholders a lot of leeway in trying to remain financially viable, especially in the off-season.
The size of a potential convention center/restaurant at the summit of Snow King, a second ice rink, and private interest commercial holdings at the base area are also expected to be hotly debated moving forward after a final decision from the Forest Service.
In the letter that will be sent to O’Connor, the council states:
“ln general, the alternatives presented—with one notable exception—fall short of expectations for a balanced and thorough analysis. The National Environmental Policy Act requires a reasonable range of alternatives, but aside from the no-action alternative, there are few differences between the other options and the proposed action.
“Specifically, at the outset of this process the town requested a range of alternatives for the proposed road and skiway across the face of Snow King Mountain to and from the summit. Alternatives three and four contain the exact same alignment as alternative two, which is the proposed action by the resort. This comes after the town and the Bridger-Teton received substantial public comment about the road and the need for a range of alternatives.
“It seems the Bridger-Teton limited its analysis to solely what the resort provided, concluding there was no other viable alternative. Yet a group of citizens, led by avalanche forecaster and veteran Snow King ski patroller Rod Newcomb, presented an alternative to District Ranger Mary Moore that showed a viable route to the summit without an expansion of the resort boundaries. This route is known as the “Briggs Road,” after longtime instructor and ski pioneer Bill Briggs, who scouted the alignment to the west of the summit with resort founder Neil Rafferty as early as the 1970s.”
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