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Silverton Mountain Heli-Skiing Changes Will Have to Wait

The owners of Silverton Mountain in Southwest Colorado had hoped to avoid an environmental review of their request to diversify the terrain for their heli-skiing operation, but that's not going to happen. The Bureau of Land Management wants to make sure the requested terrain swaps line up with the environmental review done in 2008, so Silverton Mountain won't be able to implement its changes in time for the upcoming season.

Though Silverton owners Aaron and Jen Brill were trying to avoid the environmental review, it was exactly what some members of the community asked for during the public comment period, which they also said was too short. The specific critiques of the plan mainly relate to concerns that backcountry access for locals will be cut off if the resort's heli-skiing operation moves into this less avy-prone terrain. Ultimately, the environmental review being undertaken can be traced back to a request from San Juan County commissioners, who voted to approve the changes themselves, for federal officials to complete a further analysis.

Silverton Mountain wants to trade permit areas along the northern edge of BLM land in exchange for areas south of the resort, with the largest swath being east of San Juan County Road 2.

BLM Tres Rios Field Office official Jeff Christenson told the Durango Herald that his agency hoped the first step in the review process would help guide Silverton Mountain in refining its request, but it's now clear from the public response that the proposal should be made available as is. Materials related to Silverton Mountain's proposal can be found here.

When we checked in with Curbed Ski readers about what you thought about the changes Silverton Mountain was after, the response was generally that backcountry access should be left how it is now.

Poll results

How 'bout it Curbed Ski readers? Still feel the same?

· Heli-skiing plan hits delay [Durango Herald]
· Vote Now: Yay or Nay on the Proposed Silverton Heli-Ski Plan [Curbed Ski]
· Silverton Mountain Wants to Diversify Their Heli-Skiing [Curbed Ski]
· Ten Tips To Have the Best Day of Your Life at Silverton Mountain [Curbed Ski]
· Find Never-ending Powder On This Colorado Road Trip [Curbed Ski]