A do-over in Telluride

  Environmental activists may get a second shot at containing the ski industry in Telluride, Colo. Supervisor Robert Storch of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison national forests has reversed his approval of a ski area expansion onto public land. "In the interest of fairness," Storch wrote the regional forester on June 30, "I have agreed to take a second look."

Telluride residents Phil and Linda Miller, who have been fighting Telski's plans for years, teamed up with two local environmental groups, the Sheep Mountain Alliance and the Colorado Environmental Coalition, to protest the 700-acre addition. "(The issue) is not even about skiing," says Linda Miller. "It's about turning public lands into theme parks."

The plaintiffs charge the agency was biased in favor of Telski and used a letter Forest Service project manager Jeff Burch wrote in October 1996 as proof. Burch wrote, "(The lawsuit) will cost you dearly in terms of your position in the community ... Make no mistake, litigation is WAR." The Forest Service reassigned Burch and will select a new manager and panel for the upcoming review, says Forest Service spokesman Matt Glasgow.

Linda Miller says she hopes the agency will do a better job on reviewing the expansion this time around. "We'd like to take (Storch) at his word," she says. "We'll be very open-minded."

* Emily Miller

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