Friday, May 1, 2015

Bridger-Teton National Forest Authorizes Aerial Adventure Course at Snow King Mountain Resort

The Bridger-Teton National Forest has signed a Decision Memo authorizing the Snow King Mountain Resort to install an aerial adventure course on the mountain.

Snow King Mountain Resort proposed the aerial adventure course or “ropes” course to the Bridger-Teton in their 2014 Master Development Plan. In 2011, ski resorts on National Forest System lands were authorized to provide opportunities for families and guests of various ages and physical abilities to participate and to experience personal growth in a unique, natural, setting through activities such as zip lines and ropes courses in the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act (SAROEA). “The aerial adventure course fulfills the need to involve a broad spectrum of participants in outdoor recreation activities particularly as a family or group,” said Jackson District Ranger Dale Deiter. “There is a need at Snow King Mountain Resort to enhance and diversify recreational opportunities in order to improve its viability as a competitive, year-round resort,” he said.

The aerial adventure course will be suspended in the trees and utilize wooden supports and it will be accessed by the Rafferty ski lift. “There will be no drilling or bolting into the live trees,” said Deiter. Additionally, no new roads will be constructed with the installation of this course. The course will require Snow King to have all aerial adventure courses audited by an independent qualified inspector (FSM 7330.5) prior to public operation. At a minimum, the Forest requires the holder to have an annual operations audit conducted in accordance with American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or equivalent industry standards and certified by the Forest Service before it will be open for use by the public.

“Scoping for this project started last year in April,” said Deiter. The Bridger-Teton received 53 comments on Snow King Mountain Resort’s proposal. The comments were mixed, both in favor and opposed to the project. “Some of the comments were related to concerns about noise from the course,” said Deiter, “so we insisted on several things to mitigate those concerns.” A few examples include that the Forest had a noise study conducted over the last year to make sure that the addition of the course wouldn’t affect the existing condition on the Forest. “We also have required that the operation of the aerial adventure course occur concurrently with the times that the ski lifts are already running,” Deiter said. Additionally, besides prohibiting operations before 9:00am, the Forest is also requiring state of the art rollers and cables which further reduce noise from the course operation. “We made changes based on the comments we received to the visual impacts as well,” said Deiter. The Bridger-Teton required that the course be moved 400 feet away from private land to further reduce not only the potential for noise, but visual sight-lines as well.

The course will impact 7/10’s of an acre of National Forest System land after Snow King orders it from the manufacturer and it is delivered and built on site,” said Deiter.

This Snow King Mountain Resort is located adjacent to the Town of Jackson, Wyoming in Teton County on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The ski area occupies approximately 450-acres on the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

Grand Teton Hiking

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