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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Stevens Pass Ski Area Growth Concerns

An Environmental Assessment (EA) for Phase 1 of the Master Development Plan (MDP) for the Stevens Pass Ski Area was released recently. We believe the overall expansion plan is harmful to the environment of the area, particularly because the pass area itself is a narrow wildlife corridor between the northern and southern halves of the North Cascades. There are major procedural problems as well. The EA is not the appropriate method for approving parts of a major expansion of a ski area into unroaded land. As N3C's letter to the Forest Service states in part:
[We] object to the use of an EA to obtain approval of the first in a series of many related projects at Stevens Pass.  The Forest Service used a Categorical Exemption to extend their special use permit for 40 years, based on “no change” in the use of the permit, despite already having received a draft of their MDP.  Then the Forest Service “accepts” their MDP without any public review; now the Forest Service starts approving projects one at a time through an EA process.
You can read the full text of this letter, jointly signed by N3C and the Alpine Lakes Protection Society (ALPS), in the forthcoming Winter issue of The Wild Cascades. Become a member of N3C to get your copy. Meanwhile, you can read the EA at http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/mbs/projects/stevens-pass-mdp/FinalStevensPassEA_DEC09_Cover-Chapter1.pdf, and submit your own comments on it to mbs_stevens_ski@fs.fed.us. Or by mail to: 
Robert Iwamoto, Supervisor
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
2930 Wetmore Avenue, Suite 3A
Everett, Washington 98201

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