The White River National Forest near Vail, Colo., was a busy place on the morning of July 1. After a springtime break for the elk calving season, work was scheduled to begin anew on the controversial expansion of the Vail ski area, which will increase the size of North America's largest ski area by 25 percent (HCN, 12/7/98).
Protesters arrived early to erect a
20-foot log tripod on a Forest Service access road, and when ski
area crews arrived with a cherry-picker, two of the protesters
locked themselves to the equipment.
crews used alternative roads to reach the expansion area, and the
Forest Service closed off 4,000 acres in and around the
The protesters' roadblock remained until
after the July 4th weekend, when law enforcement officers from the
Forest Service dismembered the tripod and arrested some of the
protesters at the site. On July 22, another protester was arrested
after she refused to move from a tree inside the expansion area.
There have been nine arrests.
Many activists say
the approval of the Vail expansion was a triumph of politics over
science; they point to internal Fish and Wildlife Service documents
recently obtained by Boulder-based environmental lawyer Ted
Zukoski, which show that agency biologists' recommendations to
protect lynx habitat near Vail were ignored by their
Construction crews continue to fell
trees in the expansion area, and Vail Resorts officials expect
limited skiing on the new terrain as early as this coming winter.