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Lookout Pass wins approval to add chairlifts, expand terrain for skiers and snowboarders

Lookout Pass Ski Area has received Forest Service approval to add two new chairlifts and 14 new runs. The ski area operates on federal land on the Idaho-Montana border. (Associated Press)
Lookout Pass Ski Area has received Forest Service approval to add two new chairlifts and 14 new runs. The ski area operates on federal land on the Idaho-Montana border. (Associated Press)

Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area plans to spend about $10 million over the next several years on new ski runs, chairlifts and an addition to its lodge.

The ski area on the Idaho-Montana border received final U.S. Forest Service approval Friday to expand its operations on federal land.

“I’m jumping up and down right now. It’s been a long process … seven years,” said Phil Edholm, Lookout’s president and CEO.

Lookout’s footprint will nearly double to 1,023 acres on the Idaho Panhandle and Lolo national forests. The expansion will allow the ski area to add two new chairlifts and 14 new runs. Work also will begin on a 14,000-square-foot addition to Lookout’s lodge, which received earlier approval.

Lookout will install a mile-long chairlift to a peak at 6,150 feet in elevation, which will give skiers and snowboarders a 1,650-foot vertical drop and 100 acres of new terrain. Edholm has been calling the new area “Eagle Peak,” though that’s an unofficial name.

“It’s going to be premier snow quality,” said Edholm. The new area will increase Lookout’s reputation for powder days, he predicted.

Edholm hopes to get two new ski runs logged this summer so they are open for skiing next winter.

The new chairlift to Eagle Peak will be installed in the summer of 2018, and 12 additional ski runs will be developed, he said. The expansion of Lookout’s existing lodge also will begin, which includes 130 new parking places.

Installation of another chairlift would occur in 2019 or 2020, bringing Lookout’s total to six lifts, Edholm said.

Lookout’s expansion was subject to environmental reviews by the Forest Service. During the review, there were some concerns raised about conflicts with dispersed backcountry recreation in the St. Regis Basin and the Stevens Peak area.

Forest Service officials said approving Lookout’s expansion will provide economic development as well as developed recreation opportunities for the public.

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