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Denver, CO, Feb. 16, 2001–(SAM Magazine) Colorado’s Water Quality Control Commission voted 6 to 2 this week to dismiss an appeal of Arapahoe Basin’s state permit to install snowmaking at the resort. Though the victory is welcome by resort management, it’s not the end of their battle with environmental groups. A-Basin is the only ski area in Summit County without snowmaking and has said it needs it to remain locally competitive in the early season.
“The dismissal was a positive step for us,” said Alan Henceroth, A-Basin mountain manager, “but it’s one of many steps.” The resort now needs a 404 permit from the Army Corps of Engineers before it can install a snowmaking system that would operate next fall, but time is tight.
Though A-Basin is expecting to receive that permit “fairly soon,” Henceroth says the resort anticipates further appeals from Colorado Wild and Trout Unlimited despite management’s attempts at developing plans that would mitigate any effects of drawing water from the North Fork.
The environmental groups have been fighting A-Basin’s effort because they feel any withdrawal of water from the North Fork would cut its ability to dilute an already-polluted Snake River. The detractors are fearful that water in the Snake, which is polluted by leaching tailings from abandoned mines upstream, would wind up with higher concentrations of heavy metals and become unhealthy for fish.