Cooper’s Wayback Project Enters Final Review
Ski Cooper’s Wayback Pod Improvement Project took another step forward last week as it formally entered into the 45-day review period now that the Forest Service officially released the Draft Decision Notice concerning the project, now years in the making.
In a formal press release distributed to media outlets on February 7, “The Pike and San Isabel National Forest, Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands (PSICC), Leadville Ranger District announced today the release of the Draft Decision Notice for the Ski Cooper Wayback Pod Improvement Project, located north of the town of Leadville.”
The Draft Decision Notice selects the Proposed Action Alternative, which would authorize various activities and improvements at the Ski Cooper ski area, including the installation of a new ski lift, removal of vegetation to develop new ski trails and maintenance access route, repositioning and reinstallation of the ski patrol headquarters building and the installation of a new vault toilet.
The purpose of this project is to enhance the overall skiing experience within Ski Cooper’s current special use permit boundary while minimizing adverse effects on natural resources. Approximately 71 acres of new intermediate and advanced skiing terrain would be created as a result of this project.
The publishing of the Legal Notice in the Pueblo Chieftain on February 7, 2019 begins the official 45-day objection period. Readers can view specifics on the project, HERE and under Land Management HERE:
While Ski Cooper’s General Manager Dan Torsell declined to make any additional comments regarding last week’s announcement, Torsell and the Board of Directors have been transparent about the project all along, providing specific data and updates regarding the improvement project. For example, during the last two Community Update Meetings held annually each fall to honor Cooper’s commitment to the Leadville community regarding transparency in planning and fiscal accountability, Torsell provided the following presentation.
The video presentation is a thorough account of the project which includes 46.8 acres of conventional and gladed areas already included in the Special Use Permit that Ski Cooper has in place with the Forest Service, making it an improvement project rather than expanding the area already permitted. The project provides some gradients in the 25-30 degree range, and will also include some tree-skiing.
“We’re trying to move forward and make improvements all while maintaining the character of Ski Cooper,” concluded Torsell at last fall’s Community Update Meeting.
So while the clock on the review period began ticking last Tuesday, Feb. 7 and will officially wrap up on March 24, 2019, it is worth noting that “objections will only be accepted from those who have previously submitted specific written comments regarding the proposed project during scoping or other designated opportunities for public comment.” In other words, if you haven’t spoken up by now, it’s too late! After the objection period, PSICC Forest Supervisor, Diana Trujillo, will consider any submitted objections and plans to provide the Final Decision in March 2019. If the Wayback Pod Improvement Project clears its final planning hurdle, construction will get underway this summer for skiers and boarders to enjoy some of those improvements by next winter’s ski season.
In conclusion, Acting Leadville District Ranger, Max Forgensi, acknowledged the efforts of Leadville Ranger District employees who worked closely with several partners to arrive at this draft decision.
“The results of this project are likely to have a long-lasting, positive effect on the Leadville community. I appreciate the significant public interest as well as the hard work and dedication of all those involved in getting us to this milestone.”
Ski Cooper Annual Community Meeting 2018
A Leadville Tradition: Kids Ski Cooper
The Center Early Childhood program’s “Learn to Ski” program taught another group of preschoolers to ski this year. According to Mary Jelf with The Center in Leadville, “The program is designed to teach kinder-ready kiddos new physical skills, self-confidence, and the joy of the ski slopes.” Most of the Leadville students see a marked improvement in their ski skills in just a few lessons.
“You can see in their smiles how much fun they have,” said Jelf, adding the program is generously supported by the entire community, including parent volunteers and teachers.
In other students-on-the-slopes news, mark the following dates on your calendar for events planned to honor the 10th Mountain Division. Students from West Park Elementary 3rd grade class will conduct an assembly on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 2 p.m. in the Lake County High School (LCHS) Auditorium to honor these special veteran soldiers. According to organizers, in this learning expedition, students will build their background knowledge of World War II and the Tenth’s involvement. In addition, students will investigate the impact these men and women have had on Leadville community.
Then on Friday, March 1, the veterans and their friends and families will be out at Ski Cooper all day, with the serpentine ski down scheduled for 1:30 p.m. The 3rd graders will re-join the group out at Ski Cooper as a culminating experience for their learning expedition about the 10th Mountain Division.
“This is a great way to wrap up a powerful learning expedition,” stated Becca Katz, the Community Learning Director for the Lake County School District.
Caleb Gonzalez practices his “pizza stance” during The Center’s “Learn To Ski” program Photo: Mary Jelf