In the draft decision document, the Forest Service allows expansion of the existing ski area from 1,138 acres to 2,243 acres. It also allows new facilities – including chair lifts, buried lines for water, power and waste water, two wastewater drains, a maintenance building and a new lodge to be constructed on federal lands. The decision allows for expanding skiable terrain for both beginner and intermediate skiers. The number of ski lifts is increased from four to eight. A new snowmaking reservoir would also be constructed, and total daily skier capacity would be increased from 1,500 skiers to 3,066 skiers. The number of ski runs would increase from 52 to 80. Most of the new developments would occur just west of the existing ski area. The decision requires issuance of a new Special Use Permit (SUP) to Montana Snowbowl and an amendment to the Lolo National Forest Plan.
Montana Snowbowl lies on both private and federal lands approximately 12 miles north of Missoula, Montana. The ski area has operated on the Lolo National Forest under a Special Use Permit since 1961 and currently provides for both winter and summer recreation activities. Existing facilities on federal lands include ski trails, lifts, small buildings, buried water and power lines, a snowmaking reservoir, hiking trails, mountain bike trails, and a folf (disc golf) course. The owners of Montana Snowbowl first came to the Forest Service with their expansion plans in 2004 stating a need for additional beginner and intermediate ski terrain and enhanced summer recreation opportunities. In the time since their initial proposal, the Forest Service has engaged with the public and conducted environmental analysis to determine the effects of the proposed action and alternatives.
The Draft ROD and FEIS are subject to public objection under Code of Federal Regulations §218.5(a). Objections may only be filed by those who previously submitted comments specific to the project. All objections must be submitted to the Forest Service by January 21, 2013.
Objections may be mailed to: USDA Forest Service, Northern Region, ATTN: Objection Reviewing Officer, P.O. Box 7669, Missoula, MT 59807 OR hand delivered to: USDA, Forest Service, Northern Region, ATTN: Objection Reviewing Officer, 200 East Broadway, Missoula, MT 59802, Office Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Electronic objections may be submitted to: email@example.com. Faxed objections may be submitted to: (406) 329-3411.
The FEIS and Draft ROD are posted on the Lolo National Forest’s website at fs.usda.gov/lolo (“NEPA Projects” section). Copies of the Montana Snowbowl Expansion FEIS and Draft ROD are also available for review at the Missoula Ranger District Office in Missoula, Montana, which is co-located with the Forest Supervisor’s Office at 24 Fort Missoula Road, Missoula, MT. To obtain a paper or CD copy of these FEIS and Draft ROD or to request further information, contact Karen Stockmann at (406) 329-3936.