Posted: Sep 6, 2012 10:04 PM by Dennis Bragg - KPAX News
Updated: Sep 7, 2012 8:24 AM
MISSOULA- The Lolo National Forest and the Bitterroot National Forest are both rejecting the latest plans for the Bitterroot Resort, saying the proposed ski area isn't compatible with management plans for either jurisdiction.
That's the sum of a letter given to resort developer Tom Maclay during a meeting with administrators of both forests on Thursday.
Maclay has been pressing for the resort's development, which would require ski operations to use public land adjacent to his family's ranch for several years. He had submitted a revised proposal for the Forest Service to review back in May, hoping to get initial approval for Special Use permits.
But in the letter signed by Lolo National Forest Supervisor Deborah Austin and Bitterroot National Forest Supervisor Julie King, the administrators say Maclay's latest plans failed to pass even the initial screening process.
The Forest Service says the problem is that the ski operations, including construction of a gondola and other facilities reaching up the north side of Lolo Peak, aren't compatible with the Forest Plans that were adopted in the 1980s.
Austin says for the Lolo lands, the gondola and construction of ski trails aren't compatible with the Carlton Ridge Research Natural Area, which was set aside for preservation and research in 1987. Furthermore, the agencies say the proposed ski resort would conflict with policies for non-motorized use on those sections of the forest, including "developed recreation facilities."
The rejection is a setback for Maclay, who had been hoping a revised project would help his project move forward, staving off a move to turn his family's historic ranch over to creditors, who bought the land at a sheriff's auction last winter.