Purgatory Resort is pushing its expansion dreams by resurrecting the Ice Creek Lift Pod, a regretful proposal that was purposefully dropped from its 2008 Master Development Plan (MDP) due to the concerns of degrading Canada lynx habitat.
Unfortunately, Purgatory is prioritizing its narrow self-interest by pushing to expand into thousands of acres of lynx habitat in the headwaters of East Hermosa Creek, a stream where an extensive reintroduction program for the rare Colorado River cutthroat trout has been underway for decades.
The proposed pod lays north of Purgatory’s current winter and summer sports operations, a spot that is ideal lynx habitat due to its mix of dense spruce forest and shrub-dotted meadows occupied by various prey species.
Research since the agreement between the previous Purgatory owners and Colorado Wild (now Rocky Mountain Wild) to drop the pod from the MDP indicates continued “high habitat use” for the lynx, a threatened species, in this region. The environmental analysis for the ski area expansion fails to present any development alternatives to the Ice Creek Pod.
Part of the habitat that would be lost with the new pod.
Purgatory wants to move their beginner ski operations from the current locale at 8,750 feet to the higher Ice Creek Pod location so they can dodge the increasingly unreliable lower elevation snowpack caused by climate change.
Yet, paradoxically, Purgatory makes no effort to offset their carbon footprint, and dodges any corporate responsibility in mitigating the existential threat of warming temperatures. Instead, they want to stick their head in the snow regarding climate change and install a new 3,400 foot (2/3 of a mile) lift and obliterate dozens of acres of carbon-sequestering mature spruce tree.
The San Juan National Forest is ‘fast tracking” the environmental review process and appears to be poised to approve whatever is on Purgatory’s wish list. They’re not planning to wait until the US Fish and Wildlife is able to study the proposed development to determine if there might be “adverse effects” on the rare lynx.
Personalize Your Comments
Many of us live and recreate around this area- base your comments on your personal experiences for greater impact. All comments must be submitted by Monday, July 6th.
Purgatory operates on the land and the Forest Service controls the permitting, but the lands are our national forest, owned by each one of us.
We need you to inform the Forest Service that:
- Ski area expansion does not justify lynx habitat destruction
- Additional development in the East Hermosa Creek watershed, with its reviving cutthroat trout population, is simply unacceptable
- The San Juan National Forest must insist on a detailed analysis of climate change consequences by all projects proposed on our national forest, including ski area expansions
Therefore, the Forest Service needs to slow the environmental analysis process to:
- Allow consideration of possible ski run development in areas not destructive to lynx and trout habitat
- Wait for Fish and Wildlife’s analysis on lynx activity and habitat in the Purgatory area
- Require Purgatory to undertake a thorough greenhouse gas/carbon footprint analysis of any development schemes.