Snowbasin, UT, May 31--A land exchange between theU.S. Forest Service and Snowbasin Ski Area has been completed after closeto a decade of development. The exchange gives the Forest Service 11,757acres for its National Forest (mainly in the Wasatch Cache), whileSnowbasin picked up 1,377 acres of federal lands around the ski area's basearea in order to develop major new facilities in preparation of the 2002Winter Olympics.
The actual land swap was approved by Congress and President Clinton back inthe fall of 1996 as the Snowbasin Land Exchange Act which was part of thelarger Omnibus Parks and Public Lands Bill. While the land exchange itselfis exempt from NEPA analysis, all proposed projects must be submittedbefore implementation for approval by the Forest Service, which includedSnowbasin's original master development plan.
Proposed in 1995, the planunderwent extensive review by all interested parties which led to a 1997addendum calling for additional measures by Snowbasin to protect theenvironment and changes to the list of facilities that are "reasonable andnecessary to accommodate the 2002 Olympics." Additionally, the ForestService is hiring an "outside, third party environmental monitoring companyto keep an eye on development" from both Snowbasin's and the ForestService's perspectives.
As for Snowbasin, "the trade represents a major investment by Snowbasinin the development of a world class, four-season resort." The ski area hasalready broken ground on its Phase I projects which include a new linkingroad, seven new buildings and two mountain lodges for starters.