The U.S. Forest Service has approved Eldora Mountain Resort’s request to expand the ski area on the Roosevelt National Forest, adding 62 acres of new terrain in an area known as the Jolly Jug. The project includes five new ski trails, amounting to approximately 27 acres of trails; 35 acres of tree and gladed skiing; a four or six-person high-speed lift; and additional snowmaking capabilities.
The decision is the culmination of five years of planning, environmental analysis, public involvement and stakeholder collaboration. In 2015, the Forest deferred approval of expansion outside the current Special Use Permit boundary and encouraged the ski area to work with the community to gain support and resolve objections.
“Over the past two years, Eldora Mountain Resort worked collaboratively with key stakeholders to improve relationships, build community support for the proposed projects, and compromise on a plan that will satisfy both the ski area’s growth and economic objectives as well as the community’s environmental concerns,” said Forest Supervisor Monte Williams.
These stakeholders included the Middle Boulder Creek Coalition, the Sierra Club’s Indian Peaks Chapter and Boulder County. Their effort resulted in a statement of principles document that was approved by the Boulder County Board of Commissioners in December 2017. Through the statement of principles, the parties agreed Eldora would not pursue the more controversial Placer and Moose Glades projects identified in its 2011 Master Development Plan. The parties also agreed on moving forward with expansion into the Jolly Jug terrain so long as the Jenny Creek Nordic Trail was relocated to avoid conflicts with new alpine ski trails.
Eldora also met with the Gilpin County Board of Commissioners and its planning commission to obtain its support for the project.
In March 2018, the ski area asked the Forest Service to reconsider expansion in the agreed-upon area, adjustment of the Special Use Permit boundary, and some trail realignment to compensate for the lift that wouldn’t be built under the agreement. The Forest has completed a supplemental information report that determined no further analysis is required and has issued a new record of decision. This decision will not be subject to the objection process. While the decision allows work to move forward, Eldora has not established its construction timeline.
“Eldora is an important amenity to the local community and has been part of Boulder County’s recreation tradition for more than half a century,” Williams added. “This decision will provide expanded opportunities for the public to enjoy downhill skiing within an hour of Denver and will allow Eldora to compete and endure in the recreation industry into the future.”