I want to thank everyone for your calls and letters of support for the expansion of the backside of Mt. Spokane! It is gratifying to know that there continues to be strong and far reaching support for a project that will benefit the region in so many ways. I'd like to share an update with you about the latest status of the expansion. We met with representatives from State Parks last week and have mapped out a plan for moving forward.
As you know, our vision to expand Mt. Spokane places priority on serving a growing number of recreational skiers and outdoor enthusiasts throughout the Inland Northwest. We've spent a great deal of time working with a variety of citizens, groups and organizations to make sure that our plan balances recreational end environmental priorities. And we’ve made a great deal of progress -- completing significant public process, conducting extensive studies and receiving significant public support. In fact, preconstruction activities have already begun, which includes the acquisition of a fixed grip double chairlift.
Yet The Lands Council, a local special-interest environmental group is working to stop the expansion by creating hurdles for Washington State Parks. They filed an appeal on the Washington State Parks Commission’s land classification of the backside, which was thrown out in summary judgment in February 2012. Then they appealed to the Superior Court, which recently decided that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) should have been prepared prior to the Land Classification (Non-project Action), rather than for the Ski Area proposal (project action EIS which was completed in 2012).
To address concerns and meet these technical requirements, we have retained an independent third party firm to prepare a comprehensive EIS for both Land Classification and the Alpine Expansion. The EIS process will likely take 6-8 months, which, when approved, will allow us to an start making improvements for the 2014 ski season.
This process costs time and money for all involved. It’s a shame to be putting all this time and resource into more process instead of into making improvements in the Park.
Please know that we are committed to carrying out this plan and we will continue to work as good stewards -- preserving and protecting a regional asset.
Again, we sure appreciate all your support! Think Snow!
GM, Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park