On Friday, the Aspen Daily News published a story about Aspen Skiing Co.'s expansion project on Burnt Mountain, which after 5 years of litigation, appears closer than ever to becoming a reality. However, continued objections by environmental groups seem to have once again stalled the project.
The Aspen Daily News paints a rosy picture:
"After years of litigation over plans for new ski trails on Burnt Mountain near Snowmass, a U.S. Forest Service official on Thursday said the agency is ready to implement long-planned improvements that involve removing hundreds of trees."
After the Forest Service prevailed in a lawsuit in 2010, it was able to grant the resort the approvals it needed to remove trees and widen a road on Burnt Mountain. The wider trail will be able to be groomed, which will make it easier for skiers (and sled-hauling medics) to return to the Long Shot run. Pretty straightforward. A ski resort - with all the necessary approvals in place! - wants to widen a trail to make it easier for rescue personal to bring injured skiers down the mountain.
However, nothing is ever quite as simple as it seems when environmental groups and ski resorts square off. According to the article, a plaintiff from the prior lawsuit (The Ark Initiative) sued the US Forest Service once more in April alleging the Forest Service violated the Freedom of Information Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. The Forest Service has said it intends to comply with the group's request. In the meantime, no tree-cutting permits have been issued so the trail widening is essentially on hold.
This marks the second time in a week that Ski, Esq. has run a story about a group which has lost a lawsuit and re-filed a slightly different lawsuit for a second bite at the apple. Everyone is entitled to their day in court, just not two.