Colorado ski resort expansion halted after tundra damage


KEYSTONE, Colo. — The US Forest Service has ordered a halt to expansion at a Rocky Mountain ski resort after contractors mistakenly tore down protected alpine tundra to create a temporary road.

The Keystone Resort project involving new trails and lifts has been halted after officials witnessed work crews digging the way into protected land outside the approved construction zone, The Colorado Sun reported Friday.

“We were surprised and disappointed to see this for sure,” said Scott Fitzwilliams, the White River National Forest supervisor for the US Forest Service. But he added that the error was “not a catastrophic ecological event”.

The stop work order issued earlier this month suspended development of the 0.9-square-mile (2.3-square-kilometer), 16-run expansion of Keystone Resort until the impacts environmental conditions of the unauthorized road are assessed.

Keystone Resort is owned by Vail Resorts, Inc. and the company has hired a restoration company to help mitigate and repair the damage.

“We deeply regret the impact this unauthorized construction activity has had on the environment which our team works diligently to protect every day,” Keystone principal Chris Sorensen said in a statement this week.

Other ski areas owned by Vail Resorts have recently experienced setbacks.

At Park City Mountain Resort in Utah, the local planning commission rejected plans to increase lift capacity following complaints that additional parking was needed.

And Vail Ski Resort’s approval to build affordable housing was withdrawn by city council after the property was condemned because it’s deemed critical for bighorn sheep.

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