Friends of Lolo Peak is a citizen's group of volunteers - as such we do not have all the answers. We do not yet know the full extent of Bitterroot Resort's plans for the Lolo Peak area, who is backing the venture financially, or all the various effects, both overt and covert, that such development would have on our public lands and communities. We do however, know what similar schemes have done to mountain towns throughout the West. We hope the following helps you evaluate what's at stake:
What is Bitterroot Resort, Inc?
Though it is public knowledge that local developer Tom Maclay is an integral part of Bitterroot Resort, it is unknown at this time what other investors are behind the proposed development. One thing is certain - Maclay does not have the money to build and maintain "North America's largest ski resort." Other developments of this size are owned and operated by large ski industry corporations who maintain their massive bottom-lines with real estate ventures. The Bitterroot Resort is NOT about skiing, it is about the exploitation of public land for private land development - a plan whose long-term profits only benefit those who are already wealthy enough to invest.
The Development Team for Bitterroot Resorts is certainly not small-town-local. It includes: Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners (BC, Canada); Wilson Miller of Naples, Florida to design the village and golf courses; John Aalberg of Park City, UT to design the Nordic village; and Economic Research Associates of San Francisco,CA.
"The proposed layout of ski runs on the Carlton Ridge part of the proposed Bitterroot Resort pose serious technical and logistical problems in moving skiers the four miles or so from the Carlton Lake area to the base area because Carlton Ridge is nearly flat for that distance. A long traversing road across the north face of Carlton Ridge would be needed to provide enough slope so skiers could ski down, or a series of staggered lifts on the north face of the ridge would be needed. In any case, it would be a contrived situation that most skiers would spurn."
Bitterroot Resort promises to bring "North America's largest ski resort" to the Bitterroot Valley. To gain an understanding of what this means, review the following points:
* Bitterroot Resort claims that the mountain will provide 5,342 vertical feet - more than any other ski resort in North America. They propose to run a series of lifts from Maclay's land to the false summit of Lolo Peak (where you can now find the summit register, which can be misleading). However, unlike most areas recording impressive vertical, Bitterroots Resort's vertical is non-continuous and appears to contain very little challenging terrain. In fact, the area would largely be for beginner and intermediate skiers, and is a far, far cry from the experiences one enjoys at Whistler or Jackson Hole. To take in the full vertical, you would have to take a lift out of the Carlton Lake area (after skiing down from the peak) back up to Carlton Ridge and continue down the mildly sloping expanse of the ridge to the bottom. Alta this ain't.
* Bitterroot Resort plans to develop a Nordic Village at 6,000 ft (the natural snowline in a good year). The village will have an unspecified number of buildings. The 40-mile trail system will consist of abandoned logging roads and new trail construction through wildlife habitat.
* The Bitterroot Resort will maintain 10 chair lifts (7 in the first ten years). Snowmaking in this area is essential, especially in the lower elevations on Maclay's land, and will require a vast water supply and close monitoring for pollution.
* The Bitterroot Resort revolves around a base village of 2,200 real estate units. In its own words, the Resort's village will include: "shops, restaurants, lodging, meeting and convention facilities, golf courses, walking and bike paths, kid's snowpark, ice rink, a short Nordic ski course, amphitheatre, condominiums, townhomes and single-family homesites." The extent of this development is far larger than most destination resorts in Colorado, Washington, or California and will draw water from the Bitterroot Aquifer. Effluent (otherwise known as recycled waste water or gray water) will be used for landscaping, golf courses, and agricultural fields. We are not sure where the massive amounts of water needed for snowmaking will come from.
Check out Bitterroot's proposal yourself at www.SkiBitterrootResort.com
Friends of Lolo Peak, P.O. Box 4122, Missoula, MT 59806
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