Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hope for skiing on Pikes Peak

Monday I wrote a story in the Colorado Springs Gazette about the dim prospects of a ski hill ever returning to Pikes Peak, especially if local Harvey Carter, now in his 70s, sells land that could be used for a ski area to a housing developer.
Well, after writing the story, I was contacted by two people who said they were interested in trying to turn Carter's land into a ski area. One met with him yesterday, and just sent me this email.
"I met with Harvey this morning. Thank you for helping me to get in touch with him.
He has an interesting property. To me, the key issue is whether the road that accesses the location can be improved and widened to extent that it could service such a ski area.
I am looking into it and will let you know what I find out."
Maybe there is hope.


zen said...

It is true that I'd rather see a ski area than houses up there. Though as-is the county won't allow anything smaller than 35 acre lots the impact of even a handful of houses and driveways and feeder roads, and the attendant utility work, erosion issues, trash accumulation, etc, etc would be absolutely devastating to the area - far more so than developing a small low-key ski hill would.

But I just don't see it happening because the road in question punches right through the middle of the Mennonite camp, and widening and paving it would force overwhelming changes on the camp, and raise significant safety issues for campers.

I just don't see the Forest Service offering that option. Even if it could be pulled off it would require years of NEPA reviews and EIS's.

Personally (and IMHO this is the only sensible thing to do) I'd like to see Harvey sell the development rights to a land trust (i.e. sign a conservation easement) and to be honest I don't know why no one has approached him on this.

(When it first hit the market, I tipped off Trust for Public Lands as well at the Central Colorado Wilderness Coalition and raised the issue of an easement, but as far as I know nothing has been done. Perhpas the Gazette could explore this issue further.)

Without that conservation easement, even if the Forest Service allows no changes to the road the county simply cannot stop subdivision into 35 acre lots.

Carter's land is the only major inholding in the proposed Pikes Peak West wilderness area. That land absolutely should not be developed into any kind of housing.

I know Harvey has pursued the ski hill idea for a long time. But should that fail, he should sign a conservation easement. He's a climber. He understands environmental issues. I don't know what he wouldn't.

Anonymous said...

Can somebody post a link that shows a satellite image of where the property sits?