Telluride Daily Planet | By: Jessica Kutz, Staff Reporter Thursday, November 3, 2016
Family-friendly mountain bike trails, an aerial adventure park and canopy tours are at the top o
f the list for projects planned at the Telluride Ski Resort in the coming years.
These additions were just some of what was highlighted in the proposed master development plan that was presented by Jeff Proteau, vice president of mountain operations for the resort, and CEO Bill Jensen at Wednesday’s San Miguel County Commission meeting. The last time Telski released a master development plan was in 1999. Proteau said increasing summer offerings was high on the list of improvements.
He pointed out the lack of mountain bike trails for different skill levels and said the plan would address that need. “A goal is to provide trails that are family oriented. We don’t really have any beginner trails up there,” he said. New trails also would be constructed as “flow trails” — a term used for trails constructed specifically for mountain biking, with added features that provide variety to the trail.
The reason behind selecting canopy tours was because they are “most appropriate for the ski area” and “more organic and in the trees,” Proteau said. The canopy tours would be three-hour adventures and a family activity. He described the aerial adventure park as “more of a challenge course” that also could be hidden in the trees, he said. Proteau said there would be “no sprawl” with the summer activities. “If you want to go into Prospect Basin and not run into anybody or see anybody on a canopy tour you can do that,” he said.
Jensen said the summer activities are all a part of a plan to “shift to a more activity-based environment versus an event-driven environment,” particularly with regard to the Mountain Village community. Proteau said Telski was looking for organic activities that can blend in with the environment and are non-mechanical when reviewing the types of summer activities.
“I don’t think ski resorts in the summer should turn into theme parks, I’ll leave it at that,” Jensen said. The plan also looked at the current metrics of the ski resort and what may be upgraded in the future. Last year, the resort reported that it had 8,800 visitors on its busiest day, and an average of 3,900 skiers a day. Proteau said they are looking at ways to increase the average number. The resort is proposing to either upgrade or replace Lift 9 (Plunge), Lift 7 (Coonskin), Lift 10 (Sunshine Express) and Lift 14 (Gold Hill). Proteau said they are also looking at expanding the offering of food items at the High Camp Warming Hut.
The resort would look to open a new beginner ski area equipped with a magic carpet and to remove the Nordic area, Proteau said. The resort would also look at “adding gladed terrain” in a way conducive to “forest health.” “We think the forest could use some help with the proper approach, and we think there could be a win-win there,” Proteau said. “If we go in and look at it from a forest health standpoint (we could) clean up the forest but also open it up for skiing.”
The master development plan is intended as a “visionary document” for what could happen in the next five to 10 years. “It is important to point out that none of these projects have been approved,” Proteau said. “When we put them forward to be approved by the Forest Service the site-specific analysis will still need to occur.”
Mike Rozycki, planning director for the county, pointed out that in the goal section of the document, it should include employee housing as an objective. “I think it is worth showing that as the largest employee you are aware of it (the issues of affordable housing) and that it is a goal,” Rozycki said. Jensen said they would adopt employee housing as part of their objectives for the master plan. He said that affordable housing “is something that we all face together,” and that as the biggest employer in the region, they want to be a leader in addressing the problem.
The plan will be available on the official Telski website in the next week and the public will be able to send comments electronically.