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Mt. Spokane downhill ski area expansion moves forward

WINTER SPORTS — Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park has moved up another administrative step toward developing a new ski lift and seven new ski runs on the west side of the mountain, on an 850-acre area known as the Potential Alpine Ski Expansion Area (PASEA).

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission has signed an amendment to the existing concession lease with Mt. Spokane 2000, allowing the non-profit concessionaire to proceed with the permitting process toward ski area expansion.

The newly signed amendment is on condition that the ski concessionaire provide plans for timber harvest and vegetation management and accommodate a State Parks archaeological survey.

The project then moves to the Spokane County permitting process, subject to review under the Land Use Petition Act. All necessary permits need to be obtained before actual work begins, possibly as early as late winter.

The proposal was submitted in 2010, and the Commission considered technical data and public comment.

In May 2011, the Commission allowed for potential expansion pending completion of environmental review under the State Environmental Policy Act.

See background information related to the land-classification decision.

See the lease amendment signed this week, which includes a plan of development for the ski area expansion.

See background information on Mount Spokane State Park planning.

Lodge addition debuts at Mt. Spokane open house

WINTER SPORTS — The main lodge at Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park is about a third larger after a $320,000 expansion project complete with a large deck for winter and summer activities.

The most significant improvement at the ski area in decades, as Brad McQuarrie general manager put it, will be revealed Saturday (Nov. 10) during an open house celebration. 4 p.m. to 6. p.m.

Mt. Spokane ski expansion plan comment ends Tuesday

PUBLIC LANDS — A years-old effort to expand lift-assisted skiing to the “back side” of Mount Spokane State Park will enter its final stage with Tuesday’s deadline for public comment on environmental impacts.

Details are on the Washington State Parks planning website.

Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park has been seeking permission from Washington State Parks to add a lift and expand the downhill ski area into the forested northwest side of the mountain. Ski area managers say they need to expand their terrain to remain competitive with other area ski resorts.

Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologists have warned that clearing ski runs could impact wetlands and other wildlife habitat in the remaining third of the upper mountain not already impacted by the ski area.

Groups such as The Lands Council, Spokane Mountaineers and Sierra Club oppose the expansion, saying the resort should spend money upgrading existing facilities rather than invading an intact forest and meadows favored by backcountry skiers.

Comments should be directed to:

Project lead: Randy Kline, Environmental Program Manager
E-mail: randy.kline@parks.wa.gov 

Mail: P.O. Box 42650, Olympia, WA 98504-2650

Also underway, the State Parks Commission is seeking input about the future of Washington State Parks  including Mount Spokane and Riverside State Park.

Links:

Mt. Spokane Ski Area Expansion

Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park

Mt. Spokane Coalition

Washington State Parks – Beyond 2013

Skiing into spring at Mount Spokane

WINTER SPORTS — Spokane photographer Brian Jamieson caught the flavor of the fun and action at Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park's Pond Skim event last weekend.

Snowshoers getting snubbed at Mt. Spokane ski area

WINTER SPORTS — Signs have been poking up on Mount Spokane warning snowshoers they're no longer going to be tolerated hiking popular routes up to the mountain summit.

Indeed, the signs let snowshoers, hikers, backcountry skiers and others who want to access the summit of Mt. Spokane that they're not allowed to go up through the downhill skiing concession area.

This rule has been enforced against snowmobiles for many years. But now it's getting personal with one of the newest and fastest growing state park user groups.

Local snowhoer Chris Bachman contacted Randy Kline, Washington State Parks environmental program manager in Olympia, and asked him who is responsible for the signs and why.

Below is Kline’s reply. Note that if the ski area's planned expansion on the backside of the mountain goes through, even more access will be lost to the non-downhil public.

Greetings Chris,
 
As I understand it, hiking up the mountain on groomed trails in the concession area at Mount Spokane is not currently permitted – in speaking to the park manager, this is a State Parks decision related to safety and risk management. Snowshoe folks and backcountry nordic skiers currently use an alternate route that is outside the improved concession area that gets them up to Vista House. However, the proposed expansion area will occur within a portion of the area currently used by snowshoe folks and nordic backcountry skiers so – if they will not be allowed on groomed trails - we should begin looking at alternative means to accommodate these users in their desire to get up to Vista House. Thank you for the letting me know that this is an issue of concern .
 
Randy Kline, Environmental Program Manager
Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
1111 Israel Road SW, Tumwater, WA 98501
PO Box 42650, Olympia, WA 98504
Phone: 360.902.8632

Bhutan trekking show funds opposition to Mt. Spokane ski expansion

Tonight's program on trekking in an exotic land is aimed at funding a local issue at Mount Spokane.

Spokane mountaineer John Roskelley will present a program on trekking in Bhutan tonight, 6 p.m., at the Community Building, 35 W. Main.

Donations benefit Save Mt. Spokane Coalition. RSVP: aswan@landscouncil.org.

The Spokane Mountaineers has voted to join The Lands Council in opposing a plan to expand the alpine ski area at Mount Spokane.

Roskelley, a mountaineer and former Spokane County commissioner, has been an outspoken opponent to adding a chairlift and opening ski runs on what's now considered the "backside" of the Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park.

VIDEO: Aerial action at Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park

WINTER SPORTS — A flip-photography contest prompted local slope shredder Blake Sommers to create this nifty glimpse of folks giving a workout to the Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park.  Check it out.

Wildlife biologists scope out Mt. Spokane ski runs

SKIING — Washington Fish and Wildlife Deparment biologists recently hiked through the sites on Mount Spokane where the State Parks Commission approved  new ski runs for the expansion of the Mt. Spokake Ski and Snowboard Park.

The WDFW formally opposed the expansion of the new runs on the back side of the mountain because of their potential impact on wildlife habitat.

Indeed, Howard Ferguson, district wildlife biologist, reported the group found several of the runs as currently planned will require logging in and around wetlands, old growth and perennial streams. Extensive landscaping and backfilling will also be needed. 

"We saw a bull moose and also found a lot of moose scat, wallows and beds scattered through out the area," he said.

The biologists will make a report with suggested areas the ski area managers should avoid and evaluate mitigation for potential impacts.

Work on clearing the new runs is likely to begin in 2012, ski area officials say.

Mt. Spokane ski area can expand, parks panel says

STATE PARKS — Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park will be allowed to expand into pristine terrain on the mountain’s northwest face.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission voted 4-0 Thursday afternoon to allow the expansion to move forward, after hours of discussion about recreational desires versus the need to protect old-growth forest, meadows and wetlands at Mount Spokane, the state’s largest park.

Click here to read all of SR reporter Becky Kramer's story.

Mt. Spokane ski area expansion clears hurdle

STATE PARKS — The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission today OKed environmental considerations in the conceptual expansion proposals for expanding Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park.

According to a press release just posted, the commission "issued a Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) for the proposed action."

 The Commission is expected to consider this proposal at its May 19 meeting in Spokane. 

Comments on the proposal may be submitted through March 16, 2011 to randy.kline@parks.wa.gov

The SEPA determination, checklist, maps, and additional documents related to the proposal have been posted to the State Parks website.