Can Eldora Mountain Resort Think Outside the Box? Wildlife is Counting On It

By: Tehri Parker, Executive Director, Rocky Mountain Wild

Dave Hallock and Rocky Smith give a tour to Rocky Mountain Wild Staff at the proposed Eldora Mountain Resort expansion.
Dave Hallock and Rocky Smith give a tour to Rocky Mountain Wild Staff at the proposed Eldora Mountain Resort expansion.
Photo credit: Chris Talbot-Heindl

“Around here everyone’s got a moose story,” laughs Dave Hallock, Eldora resident and member of the Middle Boulder Creek Coalition (MBCC). We’re standing on a hillside looking down on a wetland near the Indian Peaks Wilderness as he relates a story about being cornered on the roof of his house by a mother moose and her baby. “I just waited for them to do their ‘moose thing’ and then they wandered off. That’s when I came down.”

The wetland we’re looking at is slated to be developed for downhill skiing as part of an update and expansion proposed by Eldora Mountain Resort (EMR), near Nederland, CO. Rocky Mountain Wild, along with MBCC and others, have joined forces to try to stop the expansion. Our groups, for the most part, are not opposed to the much-needed infrastructure updates within EMR’s existing boundary. Where we draw the line, however, is the 70-acre expansion on the North side of the mountain. This would put new lifts and runs in an almost unspoiled riparian (river) zone along Middle Boulder Creek. The densely wooded river corridor provides much-needed habitat for deer, bobcat, moose, black bear and other species that are slowly being squeezed out of the Front Range Foothills. A study of radio-collared elk in the region also confirms that this is an important annual migration route for that species.

Dave Hallock points out existing ski runs and lifts as well as proposed runs and lifts to Tehri Parker.
Dave Hallock points out existing ski runs and lifts as well as proposed runs and lifts to Tehri.
Photo credit: Chris Talbot-Heindl

Last October the U.S. Forest Service approved much of EMR’s plan for lift and site upgrades within its existing boundary, but did not act on the 70-acre expansion into Middle Boulder Creek. Instead, the Service encouraged EMR to work with the community and conservation groups to find a cooperative solution. In the mean time, however, EMR was sold to Powdr Corp.

So, where does this leave us? “We’re still waiting for our meeting with the new EMR management. I guess we should probably call them,” Dave says with a sigh. Personally, I am hopeful that new management will think outside of the box, and create a new kind of ski experience at EMR – one that overtly works to protect wildlife and wild lands, mirrors the environmental ethic of the local communities, and does it all within its existing boundary. Is that too much to ask of Powdr Corp? Not if you’re a moose.

For more information about the opposition to the EMR expansion, and how you can help, visit the Middle Boulder Creek Coalition website at: http://www.middlebouldercreekcoalition.org.

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