Cooper’s Wayback Project Moves Forward
While Ski Cooper’s Wayback Pod Improvement Project has been underway since earlier this month, starting July 22 residents will most likely become more aware of it, as the activity now shifts from the slopes to the sky. According to Ski Cooper’s press release distributed to media outlets earlier this week, “this flying will begin next Monday, July 22 and continue until the work is done. The trees are being flown out at considerable expense in order to minimize environmental impact to the project area. The work is planned for approximately 4 days, but weather or other delays could move work into the following weekend. The plan calls for trees to be removed and flown from the Wayback location to the work area in the ski area’s parking lot.”
Access to Ski Cooper will be EXTREMELY limited. DO NOT hike on the hill or view the activity from the parking lot. The gate at County Road 29 will be closed and monitored with necessary access granted when the helicopter is not in the area. The gate where Forest Service Rd 102 meets East Tennessee Creek, past the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center Yurts, will also be closed to reduce public access to the parking lot. Warning signs will be located on Piney Ditch Road at the Cooper parking lot and the headgate near the Vance’s Cabin trail turnoff. For your safety and the safety of the crews working and flying, please heed all warning signs and closures. Please call Cooper’s Safety Coordinator, Scott Adams at 719-293-8146, if you have any questions.
What is the Wayback Pod Project?
For readers coming a bit late to the table, Ski Cooper was finally awarded the green light for the Wayback Pod Improvement Project by the US Forest Service last April. It’s an improvement project that has been in the works and plans for years. In the following video, Ski Cooper’s General Manager Dan Torsell provided a presentation about the project at the annual Community Meeting which Cooper holds annually in October.
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. Now the heavy lifting – by might and helicopter – begins so keep an eye to the sky as air-lift logging operations commence on Monday, July 22.
Serve as Citizen Scientists
In other Forest Service news, hikers are needed to collect data to help scientists understand the potential impacts of climate change on the American pika and their alpine habitat. Hikers who spot pikas are often charmed by these cute relatives of rabbits and hares.
The recent disappearance of pikas from parts of the western U.S. has been linked to changes in temperature, snowpack and vegetation. The Front Range Pika Project (FRPP), the Forest Service, and local partners are seeking volunteers to do American pika surveys on the White River National Forest this summer.
“Pikas are a focal species for the White River National Forest,” said Jennifer Prusse, District Wildlife Biologist with the Eagle Holy Cross Ranger District. “Studying pikas gives the Forest Service a deeper understanding of the health of alpine ecosystems. This citizen science initiative will help the Forest do large-scale monitoring and inform management.”