And they’re asking for the community’s input.
“There’s a need to illustrate what the next phase for the Telluride Ski Area will look like,” said Telluride Ski and Golf CEO Dave Riley this week, noting that the U.S. Forest Service has asked Telski to update its master plan. He adds that the timing is right to open formal pathways of discussion about the ski area’s future, since the Mountain Village is in the midst of creating its own new Comprehensive Community Plan.
In the first phase of what Riley anticipates will be a multi-stage, community-involved process, the Telluride Ski and Golf is hosting a presentation and work session, called “Imagineer Your Perfect Ski Resort,” next Monday July 6 from 6-8 p.m. at the Telluride Conference Center.
“This meeting was really designed in an effort to involve the community in creating a vision for its ski area,” Riley said of the upcoming meeting, which will include a brief presentation from Riley on the resort’s history, as well as an overview of potential opportunities for the future. Attendees will then break into discussion groups to provide feedback about topics that range from the winter ski area’s prospects for terrain, lifts, mountain restaurants and night skiing to such summer-specific topics as the possible creation of an alpine slide, zip-line or amphitheatre, and expanding the area’s mountain bike trail system.
The ski company will take the input and suggestions harvested at next week’s workshop, Riley says, as it works to fashion a working Master Plan draft. “We’ll take that back out to the community, and say ‘This is what we learned, and now this is what we’re thinking,” he said, explaining that he anticipates that it will be many months before the Ski Area creates anything concrete to present to the Forest Service as a new Master Plan proposal. As is dictated by law, the Forest Service must then embark upon a similar process of scoping and seeking public comment, before any decision can be made about any major changes to the Telluride Ski Area’s Master Plan.
“In the past ten years, the Forest Service has begun encouraging ski areas to do more of that work on their own, before the formal process starts. The theory behind that is that they believe they’ll end up with a better proposal,” Riley says. “It’s pretty important work to do and to get right.”
The Forest Service initially broached the Master Plan discussion in 2005, when ownership of the Telluride Ski Area transferred to current owner Chuck Horning. A change in ownership typically mandates an update to a Ski Area’s Master Plan, Riley says, but the Telluride Ski Resort has not made any significant updates to its Master Plan since the last Record of Decision was issued in 1999 granting the resort permission to go ahead with its Prospect Bowl and Gold Hill expansion.
Informal dialogue about a ski area boundary expansion to include parts of Upper Bear Creek, and the Forest Service’s decision to allow the ski company to execute a Snow Safety Study in Bear Creek, reignited discussion about the future of the ski area last winter.
Next week’s workshop will address the most debated future visions for the ski area, including, of course, its potential for securing the Forest Service’s permission to expand its boundary and even build a chairlift in Upper Bear Creek.
Riley emphasizes, however, that the upcoming Master Plan conversation offers the chance for the community to express their ideas about a full range of topics – not just what they think about expansion into Bear Creek.
“I don’t expect that everyone is going to agree,” he said, “but I’m really looking forward to the community’s involvement in this process. What I have learned since I’ve been here is that there are a lot of people in Telluride with really strong opinions, and those opinions need to be heard. There are some very smart people in this community that know the area and the mountain very well. I’m looking forward to getting their input.”
Vision 2025: Imagineer Your Perfect Ski Resort begins at 6 p.m. at the Telluride Conference Center on Monday, July 6, with a beer and wine reception to follow. For more information call Matt Skinner at 970/728-7423.