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Entries in Montana skiing (17)


Snowbowl expansion gets go-ahead from Forest Service

(MISSOULA)- The Montana Snowbowl Ski Area will be allowed to more than double in size with the U.S. Forest Service approving an expansion plan that's been in the works for the past decade. 

Under the Record of Decision signed by Lolo National Forest Supervisor Tim Garcia the existing ski area will expand from 1,138-acres to 2,243 acres. The expansion will include room for new chair lifts, buried lines for water, power and waste water plus drainage as well as a new lodge and maintenance building. Most of those improvements will be just west of the existing ski operations. 

And it's not just the size of Snowbowl's acreage that will double. The number of chair lifts will grow from four to eight, with the number of ski runs increasing from 52 to 80. Under the projections, that means the ski area could serve more than 3000 skiers a day, double the current capacity. 

Operators will also erect a new reservoir for snowmaking operations. 

The Forest Service says the expansion could start as early as this summer, with the work being done in phases over the next 10-years. 


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. 


Whitefish Mountain sets new record

Whitefish Mountain Resort photo(WHITEFISH)- While it was far from a record year for snow, it didn't deter the amount of skiers and snowboarders hitting the slopes at Whitefish Mountain Resort this year. In fact, the resort says this season set a new record for total visits. 

The Daily Interlake reports total skier visits were up 11% when compared to last year, helped in large part by early season snow that allowed the resort to be up to full operations before Christmas. Total skier visits include season pass sales as well as daily ski lift tickets. 

The two busiest days turned out to be December 29th, when a new record was set, only to be broken the following day when more than 7,100 skiers and 'boarders hit the slopes. That was the busiest day ever at Whitefish Mountain. 



Incoming snow could raise avalanche risk

Avalanche hazard is "moderate" in NW Montana- Flathead Avalanche Center graphic(MISSOULA)- Avalanche conditions could worsen over the next few days, as new snow lands on top of crusty, snow that's been undisturbed over the past week. 

All Points Montana reports that the avalanche risk remains low in West Central Montana, as well as most of the ranges in Southwest Montana. However, the Bridger Range, as well as the mountains in Northwest Montana have a greater risk of slides this weekend.

And avalanche forecasters say backcountry users should become complacent. Incoming snow the next several days may have a hard time "bonding" to that crust, creating a weak layer that carries the potential for slides later this week.