Locals protest Vail expansion
A long-debated expansion at Colorado's Vail ski resort gained a go-ahead from the Forest Service, but some locals aren't so sure they need more ski runs - or the trophy homes they say are sure to follow. Critics charge Vail Associates is using the ski area expansion to make way for profitable base area development.
"This has nothing to do with skiing. This is about increasing the value of nearby real estate so they can sell it," said Jeff Berman of Ancient Forest Rescue.
In a recent public hearing in Eagle County, many locals told county commissioners they want the Two Elks roadless area, valued as elk and lynx habitat, left alone.
"I love Vail, I truly feel it's the best ski area in the world," longtime skier Annie Egan told commissioners, reports The Denver Post. "But enough is enough. It's time for Vail Associates to leave some wide-open spaces for wildlife."
The expansion would put 885 acres of ski runs next door to land ripe for development. Some worry that parcel will become another Bachelor Gulch, where the company sold 101 homesites for an average of $750,000 each. Vail Associates doesn't dispute that conclusion; its annual report notes that improving ski facilities boosts the value of its real estate holdings.
County commissioners will announce the fate of the project, which has generated 500 mostly anti-expansion letters, on April 20.
* Dustin Solberg