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As Peak 6 Work Starts, Tumultuous Memories Arise

Construction for Breckenridge's expansion up to Peak 6 on the Tenmile Range is well under way, with helicopters flying in buckets of concrete and trucks hauling the 68 acres' worth of clearcut spruce and fir trees in the early mornings. Due to concerns about a repeat of the 1998 arson attack on Vail Mountain that burned down a lodge during the height of Vail's expansion into Blue Sky Basin, the area surrounding Peak 6 has been closed off. When it asked Facebook fans for ideas for trail names for the new area, scattered among the mostly positive comments were crass responses from locals sour about losing a favorite backcounty powder stash largely free of big avalanches, along with others simply fed up with a new round of expansion and cutting in virgin forest. "Dankrupt," "Trail of Lynx Tears," and "The Scummit" were spotted among more positive names like "Epiphany," "Nirvana," and "Heaven's Gate."

[Summit County Voice photo]

Now that construction is underway, locals have been reminded of the tumultuous evolution of the project. The Colorado Independent, a progressive online news source, called the project's history "long and sordid," remembering a land-use change that the Forest Service underwent without any public scrutiny, changing the boundary between the ski area and the adjacent nordic center. The project would affect habitat for the Lynx, a species protect under the Endangered Species Act, so the White River National Forest amended their forest plan so the expansion wouldn't run afoul of that conflict. Breckenridge Town Council member Dave Rossi made the forceful claim that the Forest Service should be "embarrassed" for "putting its thumb on the scale." The first round of public comments counted 200 largely negative responses from the public.

And while Breck claims the expansion is needed to diffuse traffic at the nation's busiest ski resort, a Forest Service study concluded that it would only be a matter of time before the expansion simply brought more people anyway. That's clearly Breck's goal, as new terrain is about the biggest gift to a marketing department and ticket sales one can hope for outside of a powder day.

Opposition to the project has waned over the years, and officials hope Vail Resorts' contribution to improving Lynx habitat away from the resort will more than make up for the loss of Peak 6 habitat (the animals largely avoid ski areas). What do you think about Peak 6? Let us know in the comments or by hitting us up on the tipline.
· Vail Resorts Peak 6 expansion draws barbs, mockery [The Colorado Independent]
· Breaking news: Breck, Copper announced expansion plans [Curbed Ski]