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Entries in Bitterroot Resort (8)


Forest Service rejects latest Bitterroot Resort proposal

(LOLO)- The Forest Service has rejected the latest proposal for skiing on the lower slopes of Lolo Peak, saying the plans still don't match with management goals for the area. 

Last spring, developer Tom Maclay pitched a new version of his proposal to develop ski facilities on the mountains southwest of Lolo, the third time he's tried to get the Forest Service to sign off on his plans. The first two were rejected because of conflicts with environmental management around Carlton Ridge.

In the request to "screen" the latest proposal for further review, Maclay said SUPPRB, or the Special Use Permit for Public Resort Benefits, would operate solely on National Forest land, using existing roads with shuttle buses to the lifts. He also proposed a lodge and restaurant on the mountain. 

But in a letter sent to Maclay, supervisors of both the Lolo and Bitterroot National Forests say the proposal "isn't consistent" with the standards for further review by the Forest Service. 

The failure of the earlier proposals put the Maclay Ranch in foreclosure and the land remains up for sale with an asking price of $22-million. 


Bitterroot resort decision expected before summer's end

KPAX TV photo(MISSOULA)- The Forest Service should have a decision on the latest proposal to run ski operations on the slopes of Lolo Peak by the end of this summer. 

But even at that, a complete analysis of the new plan may take several months to resolve…

Developer Tom Maclay released details of his latest ski proposal to the Forest Service this week, a plan that was first submitted to the Bitterroot National Forest for "screening" in late May. 

This is the third time Maclay has attempted to get the Forest Service to sign off on his plans to use the slopes of Lolo Peak for a regional ski operation. 


Future of Bitterroot Resort land now in hands of new owners

The Bitterroot Resort website touted the project's benefits(LOLO)- An historic Bitterroot Valley ranch is now in the hands of an out-of-state firm after the Maclay family runs out of time to head off foreclosure.

Tom Maclay had been fighting for nearly a decade to develop the Bitterroot Resort, with the idea of using the land his family had owned since the 1800s, along with adjacent Forest Service land below Lolo Peak, for skiing. Maclay's project would have led to the development of homes and other amenities on the ranch land, but it really depended on the Forest Service land for the ski runs. 

Yet those plans continually ran into problems, and opposition from people who felt the resort wasn't in keeping with the management standards for the federal land. 

Metropolitan Life had backed the project, but moved to foreclosure when Maclay defaulted on payments in 2009. That set up the sheriff's auction last year, where Met Life submitted the winning bid for the land at $22.5-million dollars. 

Even at that, Maclay still had a year to try and "redeem" his ranch. And he submitted another revised proposal for the resort, but that was rejected by the administrators of the Lolo, and Bitterroot National Forests last summer, saying the project still didn't meet the "minimum requirements" for a lease.  

Local supporters also attempted to appeal to state leaders to throw support behind the resort idea. 

The one year deadline for the auction passed February 22nd. 

Now, the ownership transfer has become official with Missoula County Sheriff Carl Ibsen signing the sheriff's deed on foreclosure February 27th. That shifts the ownership of the 3000 acre ranch and its improvements and infrastructure over to Met Life Agricultural Investments.

There have been no clear indications as to what the company's plans will be for the property south of Lolo. 


Latest Bitterroot Resort plans nixed by Forest Service

(MISSOULA)- Both the Lolo National Forest and the Bitterroot National Forest are rejecting the latest plans for the Bitterroot Resort, saying the proposed ski area isn’t compatible with management plans for either jurisdiction.

That’s the sum of a letter given to resort developer Tom Maclay during a meeting with administrators of both forests today.

Maclay has been pressing for the resort’s development, which would require ski operations to use public land adjacent to his family’s ranch for several years. He had submitted a revised proposal for the Forest Service to review back in May, hoping to get initial approval for Special Use permits.

But in the letter signed by Lolo National Forest Supervisor Deborah Austin and Bitterroot National Forest Supervisor Julie King, the administrators say Maclay’s latest plans failed to pass even the initial screening process.

The Forest Service says the problem is that the ski operations, including construction of a gondola and other facilities reaching up the north side of Lolo Peak aren’t compatible with the Forest Plans that were adopted in the 1980s.

For the Lolo lands, Austin says the gondola and construction of ski trails aren’t compatible with the Carlton Ridge Research Natural Area, which was set aside for preservation and research in 1987. Furthermore, the agencies say the proposed ski resort would conflict with policies for non-motorized use on those sections of the forest, including “developed recreation facilities.”

The rejection is a setback for Maclay, who had been hoping a revised project would help his project move forward, staving off a move to turn his family’s historic ranch over to creditors, who bought the land at a sheriff’s auction last winter. 


Ravalli commissioners won't endorse Bitterroot Resort proposal

(HAMILTON)- Ravalli County commissioners are re-affirming their support for “multiple use” on national forest lands. But the board is stopping short of endorsing any specific proposals like the Bitterroot Resort.

Developer Tom Maclay is still trying to get permission from Lolo National Forest to build his proposed ski resort at the north end of the Bitterroot Valley. Maclay had asked Ravalli County commissioners to lend their support to his plans, recently giving some of the board a tour of the property.

But commissioners are stopping short of making any endorsement.

Monday, the board discussed the idea of writing a letter supporting the resort. But the commissioners expressed some concerns about issuing such an endorsement, especially since the resort is in Missoula County and there are questions over what kinds of impacts the project could have on Ravalli County.

Instead of writing the letter, commissioners approved a resolution instead. It simply states the county supports “multiple use on public lands.” The resolution says multiple use is “an important element in any forest planning document”, providing “diversity for citizens to enjoy public lands” and that diverse uses are an “economic driver” for the local economy.

Commissioner J.R. Iman says the resolution re-affirms Ravalli County’s support for multiple use, which is one of the elements being discussed now in the draft Natural Resource Policy the county is working on.