Snowshoe Completes Habitat Conservation Plans
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rmcva
March 23, 2006
Member since 01/28/2004 🔗
187 posts
Story from The Inter-Mountain, Elkins WV
Thursday March 23,2006


Snowshoe Mountain Is First Resort in U.S. to Complete Two Habitat Conservation Plans

Snowshoe Mountain and Intrawest executives met with Interior Secretary Gale Norton and key U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service representatives in Washington, D.C., on March 14 to announce the successful completion of a second Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Snowshoe Mountain Resort.

An HCP is a voluntary process in which a private entity develops a plan designed to offset any potential impacts that a proposed activity might have on an endangered species. Snowshoe's HCP will provide conservation benefits for the endangered "West Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel" and allow Snowshoe to move forward with recreation and infrastructure expansion. This plan is a model of cooperative conservation involving the public and the private sectors.

"I would like to commend Snowshoe Mountain for partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help create animal habitat in the region," Norton said. "I hope this habitat conservation plan can serve as an example for future public/private partnerships to combine forces in joint conservation efforts."

In addition to Norton, Kit Kimball, director of External Affairs; Mike Thabault, assistant regional director of Region 5 U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and Shane Jones, U.S. FWS biologist, represented the Department of the Interior.

Representing Snowshoe/Intrawest were Steve Rice, executive vice president of Intrawest; Bill Rock, vice president and general manager of Snowshoe Mountain Resort; and Jason Brown, Snowshoe director of engineering and planning.

The Department of the Interior has issued an Incidental Take Permit to Snowshoe in conjunction with the HCP. Snowshoe will continue to characterize, survey and maintain the habitat for the "West Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel" in order to meet the conditions of the permit.

Additionally, Snowshoe has created approximately 200 acres of conservation area for the West Virginia National Forest Service that will be protected in perpetuity.

Snowshoe Mountain is the only resort in the United States to successfully complete two Habitat Conservation Plans on private lands.

Snowshoe has the first and second completed and approved HCP's in the state of West Virginia.
Rich
March 23, 2006
Member since 11/30/2000 🔗
194 posts
But what happens if Bambi steps outside of those 200 acres?
rmcva
March 23, 2006
Member since 01/28/2004 🔗
187 posts
Watch out for Dick Cheney
snowcone
March 23, 2006
Member since 09/27/2002 🔗
589 posts
[rant on]

1. ... I thought Gale Norton resigned a week or so ago and the administration has already picked a new one?
2. ... Taking any bets on whether the new SS sewage system gets built on newly public domained land?
3. ... Sorry, but I don't feel all warm and fuzzy about Snowshoe protecting the flying squirrel. They HAD too or there would be no expansion resulting in no new construction, thus limiting future profits. It's all about the buck.
4. ... I wonder what the ratio of new trails to new condo square footage is going to be?

[/rant off]
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Roger Z
March 23, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Snowcone, you should rename yourself to "ranter" or something. Not EVERY post you make is a rant dude, I think you've gotten into the habit of writing that. Either that or you're a very angry fellow. I can just see you turning red- "Gale Norton? GALE NORTON!!! Why that lousy no good daughter of a... I've gotta rant on this one."

To answer your "rant:" yeah, she left a week ago. Note that although the byline on the story is 3/22, the deal was signed on 3/14. Probably one of her last acts on the way out the door.
snowcone
March 23, 2006
Member since 09/27/2002 🔗
589 posts
Well some things just get me going ... like the idea that Intrawest does anything altruistically. It ticks me off that the slant is Intrawest is saving the poor endangered little flying squirrel and giving up 200 acres out of shear goodness. There is a quid pro quo or two there and its not mentioned in the article.

Well, maybe not a rant. Just expressing my displeasure of one sided reporting.

Ok ... my bad .. won't do it again.
yellowsnow
March 23, 2006
Member since 12/15/2005 🔗
267 posts
I believe the new wastewater treatment facility will be built on private land acquired via eminent domain proceedings. Just my opinion.
Roger Z
March 24, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Oh, there's definitely a quid pro quo. No business does anything out of sheer altruism. Do you expect them too? Well, I mean, apart from blowing snow to appease the four or five skiers left hanging out on the slopes.

HCPs are pretty neat little tools, though not uncontroversial. They were a way to get around a deadlock that came up because of the endangered species act. They've been used extensively in California; haven't heard about them as much here on the east coast. Essentially it's a good way to reduce litigious fights, keep some habitat preserved for endangered animals and allow development to go through. Developers obviously would like to see the laws loosened up even more, environmentalists (some of them anyway) think HCPs have already gone too far.

Just to be clear on the politics- HCPs got started in the early 1990s under the Clinton Administration, so this isn't a right-wing/left-wing thing. Kind of a moderate "Third Way" policy at the time it was implemented.
bousquet19 - DCSki Supporter
March 25, 2006
Member since 02/23/2006 🔗
684 posts
Thanks for the background information, RogerZ. Much more informative than the original article, the point of which seemed to be to get as many people's names in the paper as possible.

While I can appreciate HCPs as a way to avoid litigation, they also allow some habitat to be disturbed and/or destroyed. And the article begs the question, just who are those 200 acres being protected from? Snowshoe.

Woody
Roger Z
March 25, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Yes, it does allow some habitat to be degraded and/or destroyed. It does also protect the little squirrel from Snowshoe, that too is correct.

And if you like all this, wait until you see the fur fly should Almost Heaven get proposed on MPC...
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
March 25, 2006
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,098 posts
The posts on this news are interesting, with some of the usual SNOWSHOE bashing! From my perspective: if this means Snowshoe can finally get on with planned slope/lift expansion, then this is truly great news. Yes Snowshoe is expensive, and will get more so with increased energy costs and new terrain development. But think of the possibilities for we snow sports enthusiasts here in the MidAtlantic. No operating resort has more potential than the Shoe. Imagine the future Widowmaker quad (next year) being extended across the parking lot and road and down to the bottom of the old Hawthorne slope area. This would open considerable new territory, and with about the vertical of the Western territory. I stopped in the Discovery Center on a recent trip to Snowshoe and asked about slope expansion...the only thing folks were willing to discuss was the new Widowmaker lift with several new slopes, and the possibility of connecting slopes and lifts between Silver Creek and the Shoe basin. So if the Habitat Conservation agreement opens up slope development, albeit at the expense of the comfort of some critters, GREAT. And with this agreement, Intrawest no longer has an excuse to not address the issue of slope development to accommodate the overcrowding associated with more residence units. I say Great News...GO SNOWSHOE!!! THINK OF THE POSSIBLITIES!
The Colonel
skier219
March 25, 2006
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
I think Snowshoe is a decent mountain that gets smothered by crowds most of the time. If they can expand trails, and do it in such a way that preserves the big mountain feel without commercializing it with more condos, then it has potential to go to the next level and maybe start to rub shoulders with some of the Vermont resorts. Snowshoe is already superior in terms of snowmaking and raw elevation, and the climate is pretty close to VT. They just need more skiable terrain, and trails/features that appeal to serious skiers.

I don't think expansion in the Hawthorne area makes sense, because of the Southwest exposure (plus the trails would go under high voltage lines!), but they could put more trails in between Widowmaker and the basin, and they could go around the lake and put more trails to the skier's right of Widowmaker. They would get a northern exposure on that side, and hold snow very well. Silver Creek could also accommodate more trails to the skier's left of Flying Eagle, and that would have a northern exposure too.

I doubt they would ever connect Silver Creek and Snowshoe via lift, though the backside of Silver Creek at the top of Flying Eagle lift is a straight shot to certain parts of Snowshoe and would make for a pretty spectacular gondola ride. Who knows; if they can get more trails put in at Silver Creek, it may make sense.
Murphy
March 25, 2006
Member since 09/13/2004 🔗
618 posts
You're right, I never looked at the topo before but there's a lot of room for expansion to the skiers left at Silver Creek. Probably 3 more advanced runs and a couple of intermediates. Maybe after the Top of the World area is developed they will focus on Silver Creek. But, knowing Intrawest, the trail expansion would probably never happen before real estate development. But at the rate they're going that may only be 5 years from now.
snowcone
March 25, 2006
Member since 09/27/2002 🔗
589 posts
There's been talk for years about connecting the Basin and Silver Creek and judging from the grandiosity of the plan it's probably a long ways away. Supposedly they would add several more runs to the north of Yew Pine with a lift back to Camp 4 area and a gondola connecting to Silver Creek. If you look at any terrain maps of the area, you will see there is a pretty hefty distance to cover, probably on the order of a mile plus. Thems big, big bucks we're talking and I don't see how the investment could be justified without major buildout in the valley between the Basin and the Creek. Since I have no idea the extent of Intrawest's holding at Snowshoe its rather difficult to predict where they will build. I suspect after the Widowmaker expansion, they will add a run or two to the north of Yew Pine and call it quits for awhile. But hey, addtional trails are always welcomed where ever they are.
skier219
March 25, 2006
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
Here's a good shot from Google Earth showing the Snowshoe basin and Silver Creek:

http://members.cox.net/harmony.hunter/ss.jpg
Scott - DCSki Editor
March 26, 2006
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,132 posts
When I have asked Snowshoe officials in the past about the possibility of connecting the basin area with Silver Creek, the possibility was given a resounding "no." The terrain doesn't support it. The economic cost would be immense and it really wouldn't add much. To put it in perspective, consider the amount it would cost; now consider how that money could be used on other capital improvement projects. The officials thought, and I tend to agree, that that kind of money can always be spent on projects that deliver a better bang for the buck.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
March 26, 2006
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,098 posts
Scott,
I agree with you. But when I asked the folks at the Snowshoe Discovery Center (ie. real estate office) about slope expansion, the second thing out of their mouth after Widowmaker was "slope connection from Basin to Silver Creek".
The Colonel
JR
March 26, 2006
Member since 01/1/2003 🔗
276 posts
I really don't think Basin and Silver Creek will ever be connected. Google Earth shows theres no way to connect them without at least a couple new lifts and it would still all be really flat.

left of flying eagle has some potential.

Hawthorne has West to slightly NW exposure, pretty similar to Cupp and Shay. I really don't think it'd have much more of a snow holding issue than either of those.

I still think more runs between Widowmaker and Ballhooter make sense considering you can use existing lifts. Plus, it'd utilize the new Widowmaker high speed better but maybe clog up Ballhooter even more. Who knows.

Regardless, Silver Creek is still the best intermediate terrain on the mountain and its never crowded. The only drawback to me is that its such a haul back and forth from there to Cupp.
Ullr
March 26, 2006
Member since 11/27/2004 🔗
531 posts
Quote:

Scott,
I agree with you. But when I asked the folks at the Snowshoe Discovery Center (ie. real estate office) about slope expansion, the second thing out of their mouth after Widowmaker was "slope connection from Basin to Silver Creek".
The Colonel




Not to start up another thread where I get bashed, but this was the exact same problem I ran into when I used to ski there. I am sure it was not intentional, but several times I think I was given answers by people who were either unqualified to do so, or who did not have all the facts. At the time their answers made me very happy (i.e. gondola between both areas, pedestrian connections between all condo's with shopping and bars/restaurants mixed in, slope expansion etc.....), but in the end it led me to the "same old promises" quote that I got flamed for here!
skier219
March 26, 2006
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
Part of the Hawthorne valley has a NW exposure, but not enough to support more than 1-2 trails, and I don't see them installing a new lift just for that. The other trails would have a S exposure. The middle part of Shay's and the very bottom part of Cupp get slight S exposure and definitely mush up in warmer weather. This is the kind of thing to avoid, and it would be hard to do in the Hawthorne area if they wanted a variety of trails. It also makes it tough to add more trails on the Western Territory (where they have excess lift capacity in my opinion). Though, the lift line over there would make a pretty awesome trail....

I think the best places to expand are at Silver Creek (2-3 new trails could utilize the existing Flying Eagle lift before an additional lift was needed -- or perhaps upgrade flying Eagle to a detacheable), or around the basin to utilize the capacity of the upcoming Widowmaker detacheable.

Frankly, Silver Creek does not get enough traffic to justify more trails -- unless they made it easier to get over there. And as discussed, a gondola is a long shot for many reasons (though I believe it's technically possible -- see note below). What they need to do is spread out existing traffic better in the basin area, and the new Widowmaker lift would do that if they add 3-5 more trails over to the skier's right of Widowmaker. This would offload the Ballhooter quad quite a bit. Actually, if the Powder Monkey lift was upgraded to a detacheable, that would help too. I avoid the current Powder Monkey lift because it's pitifully slow and stops a lot.

--

On the gondola, the connecting point at Silver Creek would logically be the back/top of Flying Eagle. There's a large clearing on the backside of Silver Creek (from mining the story goes), right near the top of Flying Eagle. By eye, there is a straight shot to that spot from multiple points along the basin ridge -- you can see it very clearly while riding lifts. In addition, it's visible from the Western Territory lift too. Any basic line of sight is a potential gondola route -- remember they don't follow terrain like a lift would -- they can shoot directly across valleys. The remaining issue is lift access to the gondola points, which gets stickier on the Snowshoe side. That said, I agree with Scott that this would be the least feasible of possible investments.
Swimmer
March 26, 2006
Member since 02/3/2005 🔗
143 posts
I was fortunate enough to hook up with a patroller at the Shoe during my Feb. visit. He had been there for around 15 years and was quite chatty.

There is already a line off the backside to the left of Flying Eagle. It's overgrown but it's been scouted by patrollers doing some off piste. The Patrollers have asked about developing it but they were told that Intrawest has no desire to spend any money on more trail development at Silver Creek.

There is also a cleared bowl they call the "airport" just to the side of Silver Creek. The land was originally purchased by a guy for the intent of putting in an airstrip. However, it was discovered that all he wanted to do was strip the coal off the surface. Since it was for "development" the owner didn't have to deal with all the mining laws. Snowshoe reportedly owns that land now as well. Again, patrollers ski it when the conditions are in.

Intrawest owns oodles of land up there. I love the idea of a gondola. Makes great sense. Silvercreek is under utilized and I appreciate it as it's not ever crowded but at the same time, it would be nice to get some of the masses off the basin trails.

It's been hashed and re hashed how Intrawest is not a ski area developer. They are real estate moguls (pun sort of intended). Money is made in condos. So the folks hoping for more trails but not any more condos are just having some pretty trippin' dreams.

You really can do a SLC or Jackson trip cheaper than Snowshoe and ski for just about as many days on much more varied terrain. Jackson Hole, Motel 6 for 30/night, bus available to the resort, bus transport available to Grand Targhee if you tire of JHMR, easy b/c access on the pass if you want it. Alta, UT 110/night in a dorm room at the Peruvian, includes three meals a day. 160/night if you want a private room, still includes food. No need for rental car. I didn't go this year because of family issues at home.

I was at the Shoe and they reported something 19 inches of new snow in three days...it barely even showed on the slopes due to the traffic. 19 inches out west will still deliver hip deep drifts a couple of days after the storm. But I think I preaching to two sets of folks here...the choir and the un-convertible. Oh well..good night everyone.

Steve
MadMonk
March 27, 2006
Member since 12/27/2004 🔗
235 posts
Utah is only cheaper/comparable if you're dealing with a one person, two people max. When you start to look at airfare for a family of four driving five-seven hours to Snowshoe is more desirable from a purely economic standpoint.

That being said I love Utah. If I can get this one project done by in the next couple of weeks or so I might make one more trip out there this year.
Swimmer
March 27, 2006
Member since 02/3/2005 🔗
143 posts
Quote:

Utah is only cheaper/comparable if you're dealing with a one person, two people max. When you start to look at airfare for a family of four driving five-seven hours to Snowshoe is more desirable from a purely economic standpoint.





You have a most excellent point. My apologies. My tribe isn't old enough to seriously ski yet so I got caught up in my linear thinking...When my wife and three kids get up and going I'll probably regret even knowing there is place called Utah seeing how I won't be able to afford going there.

Maybe the housing market will take a horrific crash and people working in the high paying private sector will have to sell off their second and third vacation homes for 1/16th of what they are worth and us civil servants can pick one up for a song and a dance...too bad I can't sing nor dance..

speaking of kids...where did my 2 year old just run off too?

steve
jimmy
March 27, 2006
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
Quote:


speaking of kids...where did my 2 year old just run off too?

steve




LOL the picture in my mind of you gentle giant chasing a two year old about......priceless can hardly wait to hear of your upcoming exploits chasing two at the same time.
skier219
March 27, 2006
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
Quote:

Maybe the housing market will take a horrific crash and people working in the high paying private sector will have to sell off their second and third vacation homes for 1/16th of what they are worth and us civil servants can pick one up for a song and a dance...





So apparently I am not the only CS employee with that dream
Mountain Masher
March 28, 2006
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
It would also be nice to see Blue Knob complete a Habitat Conservation Plan. Of course, the cost of restoring habitats lost due to years of aggressive logging would be enormous. At least one can dream.
ShoeLifer
April 4, 2006
Member since 04/4/2006 🔗
1 posts
I read the tread and don't know where to respond. I think IntraWest could locate condos where the airport used to be (it's a visual blight anyway) and build a gondola from Camp 4 to the second village. That way there could be a second village on top of Silver Creek with additional slopes pass Flying Eagle.

The Google Earth view of Snowshoe is really cool. From Google Earth, it looks like there is addition room to build slopes to the left of Widowmaker (from the Basin) and to the right of Flying Eagle. The bottom of Hawthorne looks like it would be protected from sunlight by the top of a small ridge.
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