Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Snow Basin Resort Applies to Expand Its Forest Service Use Permit

Taylors, Beus and Burch Canyon descent routes are mentioned

Over the course of the past month or so we've devoted substantial electronic ink here at Weber County Forum to the frenzied tree and brush clearing activity recently occurring on Chris Peterson's Malan's Basin/Strongs' Canyon property. Thanks to the efforts of one alert WCF reader, we'll revive the discussion again. We received some interesting new information late yesterday evening, possibly related to the Malan's/Strong's clearcutting story. Here's the new info, courtesy of the Telemark Talk Forum Bulletin Board:
Utards: Snowbasin permit expansion. Comment by Jan 5.
More savvy electronic chatter on this latest development is also available, via The Teton Gravity Research BB, under the same title header:
Utards: Snowbasin permit expansion. Comment by Jan 5.
While it's probably a mite early to conclude that the two stories are actually connected, references to routes through Taylors, Beus and Burch Canyons would suggest, at this stage of the game at least, that the near-simultaneous Snow Basin permit application and the Peterson clearcutting may be more than slightly coincidental.

Taken in conjunction, these stories would also add further weight to Dan Schroeder's theory, that Peterson's clearcutting activity may be related to an effort to develop skiable Snow Basin to Ogden descent routes, of course.

We therefore invite our gentle readers to consider this new information, and to speculate on the true meaning of all this.

"Ogdenerds - ball's in your court."

Update 1/1/09 6:45 a.m. MT: For more useful information on this topic, be sure to check out Kristen Moulton's Wednesday evening Salt Lake Tribune writeup:
Snowbasin asks to take skiers into public backcountry
Suddenly, this conjunction of stories seems to be growing real legs. Imagine that.

26 comments:

Rat in the hat said...

I wonder how much Godfrey is involved in this latest tid bit of news. There are definitely rats in the house on this one.

jason w. said...

Wow. Has Wayne Peterson, leader of his famed Squirrel Patrol, reconciled with the billionaire in a cryogenic chamber? No wonder Lying Little Matty Gondola Godfrey is furious! His lovers' spat with Thorazine-loving Wayne has shat upon his divine inspiration! Sinner! And THE SKI IS BEAUTIFUL BLUE must also feel like a world-class dupe! A $20 million decal deal and a sewerless castle? C'mon, THE SKI! Wow.

THE SKI IS BEAUTIFUL BLUE

ozboy said...

I finally got a look at the mountain with Peterson's new "road" clearing.

My basic reaction is - what's the big deal? The cuts are not really that noticeable and certainly do not "blight" the mountain as I had thought might be the case when I first heard about it. The cut on the south side of Strong's canyon is the most apparent of the Peterson clearings and you have to be actually looking for it before it is noticeable.


The mountains just to the south of this one (between Weber Canyon and Bountiful) have roads cut in the entire length close to the ridgeline and they certainly do not detract in any way from the beauty.

Bottom line is that Peterson owns the property and basically has the right to do what ever he wants with it - within the law that is. I just hope that whatever he does up there he is sensitive to the generations of Ogdenites (past, present and future) who look upon that mountain as part of our heritage.

david s. said...

This is the letter I'm writing on this subject. Thanks to Rudi for bringing it to light.

RICK VALLEJOS
Recreation Staff Officer
Ogden Ranger District
Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest
Phone: (801)
Office - 625-5112
Fax - 625-5914

Mr. Vallejos:

Regarding Snowbasin’s application for backcountry skiing special use permit-

It strikes me as a bad idea to grant Snowbasin’s request to ski down through Taylor Canyon in particular, given the danger of this route compared to any unique upside for it. It seems the USFS is taking on risk and PR issues for little public benefit. Surely Snowbasin has other options for its putative training and backcountry skiing “needs”.

Taylor canyon is a nice summer hiking area. Once Snowbasin gets involved in the area we can assume this will be only the beginning, with subsequent requests for trail widening and other “improvements”. Once in use for Snowbasin skiing we can anticipate other requests for “trail improvements” such as widening, especially given the number of injuries that will occur on the existing trail. Once widened, the next “need” will be for “trail adjustments” to allow for “limited emergency motorized access.” At that point, it will “occur” to someone that only a “few additional improvements” will make the road useable for truck traffic into Malans, which will be billed as providing for “vast economic benefits to the city”.

Thus, a request to use Taylor for skiing starts as an opportunity for skiers essentially to commit suicide on the existing trail while becoming a back door approach to commercialize Malans. We recall how Snowbasin promised they would build the connector road to their resort if the state built Trapper’s Loop. Of course, the taxpayers ultimately paid for both roads in the end. It’s a nice game if you can get it: Buy relatively worthless land (like Malans) then get someone to build a road and watch your real estate go up in value by an order of magnitude, while making empty commitments in return.

At best, it seems the request to use Taylor Canyon for Snowbasin addresses a non-existent need. At worst it is another attempt to begin a process of destroying something public and unique to create another cash cow for a wealthy individual.

Malan’s owner has been using helicopters to try to find a route to his property that would allow it to have some economic value. He has a relationship with the owner of Snowbasin. It seems the two could work something else out – use of Malans property for Snowbasin’s backcountry skiing needs, to the extent those needs are valid.

Sincerely,

Ray said...

I hear Snowbasin plans to start charging a fee next year for x-country skiing at Maples. I think they also have a FS permit that allows them to groom on that FS land now.

dan s. said...

Funny how news spreads around here. I'm on vacation, checking the Internet infrequently. Late this morning my cell phone rings and it's Charlie Trentelman asking my opinion of Snowbasin's request. Then two hours later Kristen Moulton calls asking the same thing. Curious, I thought, that both papers would suddenly decide to cover this two week old news. Only now did I check wcforum and see that this story went up at 7 am. So either someone tipped off all three simultaneously, or the papers are wisely checking wcforum for tips.

Moulton's story is up on the trib site but I can't easily provide a link from my present location. We'll probably see Trentelman's story tomorrow.

Oz, the problem isn't what Peterson has already done per se. It's that what he's already done doesn't make sense unless he intends to do some very troubling things on adjacent public land.

Meanwhile, Happy New Year, everyone.

David Witherspoon said...

"Ogdenerds - ball's in your court."
dude. u owe me royalties. ;^)

RudiZink said...

"Ogdennerds" -- Excellent turn of a phrase, along with "Utards", gentle reader Witherspoon. Love it! we'll most certainly be adding these terms to our WCF lexicon, thanks to you.

We also owe you special thanks for your posts to Telemark Talk Forum and TGS, without which posts we wouldn't have been able to connect the "Peterson clearcutting" dots.

Tec Jonson said...

This is a lot of fuss over nothing. Some posters on the other forums claim this terrain is skied daily. They sound knowledgeable and experienced yet I can tell you that positively this terrain is NOT skied daily. None of this terrain has been skied yet this season. Last season, which ranked as top conditions, this terrain was only skiable on maybe twenty days, at best, unless you like to hike out through mud or on a tilted icy trail(VERY unfriendly to Ski boots) I laugh at the worrisome notes and the comments of some who claim that they ski it regularly. This terrain is not fun unless you have had a very cold dump within a few days AND it stays cold and cloudy. After that it is a scratchy minefield and deadly, not from avalanche, but from loss of control on the icy trails. I can assure you that the greenhorns that Snowbasin takes down these trails will likely be frustrated unless they hit it on the right day and before my crew slash the runout to bits. There is no danger of additional development by Snowbasin. Their statements ring with the only truth to this matter. It is wise for them to have their ski patrollers become more familiar with the westside terrain. To not have them become more familiar would seem negligent from my perspective as a user of this backcountry terrain.

I am still astounded at the ill will directed at Earl Holding in these issues. The man invested billions in recreational infrastructure that will forever benefit this area and the residents INCLUDING children who can use this kind of recreation instead of force feeding of religious dogma.

None of this has anything to do with Godfrey. Why don't some of the whiners get off their derrier and strap on a snowboard and have a little fun. You'll get a little better perspective of Snowbasin and the issues tossed about here today.

Hiker said...

Tec, some of us remember Earl saying he would pay for the road upgrades to Snowbasin and the didn't follow through and the state had to cough up $6M.
I also understand that employees have a dress code, no beards and other restricions I guess to make it more family orientated.
As a non-skier but an avid hiker they can keep the high adventure on the east side of the mountains.
And another thing you can see all the wasted cement dumped where they put in the towers so I really don't think Snowbasin is as green as some would like us to believe.

Denny said...

Regarding Tec Johnson's comments:

Dead-on. Couldn't agree more that it is "much ado about very little" stirred up by the "usual suspects" who are now seeking support from their sympathizers in the media.

I was at Snowbasin yesterday. There were thousands of people enjoying the resort, including the tubing hill and the FREE groomed cross-country trails. Like it or not, agree with Earl Holding or not, Snowbasin is an ASSET to the Northern Utah community.

And one other thing: everything that happens that you personally disagree with is NOT a direct result of some sinister plan of Mayor Godfrey. You don't have to like him or agree with him, but its time for you to "get real."

lester said...

Denny,

you of course are right about it being incorrect to blame every bad thing that happens around here on the mayor.

The results of my own extensive investigation reveals that it is only 94.034 percent of Ogden's problems that are attributable to him.

Curmudgeon said...

Denny:

While I agree with you that the criticism of Hizzonah here occasionally gets over the top, and sometimes way over the top, --- I expect someone to blame him for Bird Flu and the Yellowstone Earthquake Flurry any day now --- you should nevertheless keep in mind that much of the suspicion and distrust that underlies some of the over the top reactions to the Mayor spring from his own conduct. He has give people reason to distrust him. [Example: reneging on his agreement with the Council about what the city lobbyist would work on.] He has in the past hidden, or tried to, what he was doing. [Example: his administration telling the Council it had no right to ask who the city wanted Council approval to sell property to; his administration's attempts to hide the fact that it was arranging payment of a gondola plan consultant through a UTA funds swap; his having the city work as a purchasing agent for Mr. Lesham on the River Project without letting people know it was doing so. And so on.]

Absent Godfrey's demonstrated duplicity and ethically-challenged conduct on a variety of occasions over the years, I doubt so many would today be so willing to see his hand behind the curtain on so many things. He has given people reason to be suspicious.

But it does, I agree, get out of hand now and then.

jason w. said...

Denny Geiger:

Go suck your hat! You are a Geiger, and Lying Little Matty Gondola Godfrey is a dwarf douchebag. Good Old (?) Curmudgeon is a wise and great man, but sometimes a flat puss. Happy New Year, Geiger!

Geiger, Geiger, Geiger, Geiger, Geiger, Geiger...

THE SKI SI BEAUTIFUL BLUE

disenchanted said...

Flame post deleted

disenchanted said...

Flame post deleted

jason w. said...

Potty mouth comment deleted

david s said...

Tec,

Your comments are informative but your analysis seems to be a non sequitur.

The fact that the west side is not useful for skiing illustrates the point that there is something else going on. There is no need for this permit for the puposes mentioned in the applicatation.

The only access to Malans is the old route. This is a back door attempt to slowly re-open it,except for truck traffic this time.

After months of helicoptering, Peterson has realized Malans has no economic value. Holding is simply helping him take the first step to re-opening the old road. This would create some small benefit for Snowbasin too - otherwise they would not be interested.

As far as your observations about Holding's investments, Godfrey, and how much you ski, so what? I for one would rather the west side stay natural. The USFS should consider this before letting Holding or Peterson stick their foot in the door. The former will never take it back out.

jason w. said...

Potty mouth? Sheesh. I know who you are, Disenchanted. You are making a jackass of yourself. Again, if you have something to say to me, or you wish to speak about my family, you'd best get your ass on my porch. Also, I laugh at any of you Geigers who defend Lying Little Matty Gondola Godfrey; he is an evil, lying dwarf bereft of character and any redeeming human traits; you suck and you're an idiot if you defend him. Choke on it. Geiger, Geiger, Geiger, Geiger, Geiger, Geiger...

THE SKI IS BEAUTIFUL BLUE

jason w. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jason w. said...

C'mon. "What" use of "quote marks" keeps "getting" me deleted? "I" think "Denny" Geiger is a "jackass." He or she "is." I would "like" to tell you about "the" time Denny "Geiger" met Tom Moore, Curt Geiger and Lying Little Matty Gondola Godfrey behind "The Berthana." They were going to "meet" this "mysterious" California "investor" who was going to buy one of "THE SKI's" $35K proposed THE GONDOLA car decal sponsorships. Well, they had a "little" too "much" Dr. Pepper, and "that's" when everything "went" haywire...

THE SKI

disenchanted said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dan s. said...

Tec,

Thanks for your perspective.

What about the fact that if Snowbasin takes customers onto these slopes, it could get tracked out before you and other independent users get to it?

Dan

dwithers said...

You're welcome, Rudi. Btw, "Utards" is not my coinage.

As for much ado while doing nothing - I suggest putting language in the permit that would eliminate any speculative problems that (according to the proponents and defenders) don't exist.

exempli gratia:

The permit is for one year only, no precendent created, just a trial period, yadda yadda, nothing to worry about ... nevermind that history shows that a permit granted once cannot be later refused by anything less than an Act of Congress.

Doesn't matter what else on the planet changes - the hill could become a Mecca for three-year old snowsaucer slingers, crawling with crawlers and their doting parents, but the FS & Snowbasin would still insist on their need & right to teach Texans about avy safety by dropping cornices on the kiddies.

So put some measurable, doable, enforceable "mitigation" measures in the permit: require the FS to adequately survey backcountry use patterns and conflicts in the affected area (including cumulative & displacement impacts) and set a level of traffic beyond which the permit would not be renewed.

If, as the FS & Snowbasin assert, nobody goes there and nobody cares, then counting zero persons will be trivial and nobody will object to that language in the permit.

Then apply similar logic to other potential impacts.

And watch carefully to see which proposed permit amendment draws fire.

ozboy said...

I think it was the incomparable Machman who coined the word "Utards", and boy does it fit most of our politicians and those who keep voting them into office.

disgusted said...

find out about there contigency plans for dealing with people that want to ski the area but are not qualified to do it. seen this several times in other extreme areas like helicopter skiing.
how are they going to get someone back up the mountian should they not be able to continue to handle the terrain or if the suffer an injury. are they going to use snow cats or are the going to use helicopters or are they going to use snowmobiles.
the contingency plan will prove to be the door openers for both expanded use of the area exclusive use of the area and exploitation of the area.

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