By Associated Press - Sunday, July 12, 2015

DURANGO, Colo. (AP) - The owners of the Silverton Mountain ski resort are asking federal officials for permission to expand terrain for helicopter skiing on public land in time for the upcoming ski season, but the plan doesn’t sit well with local residents.

Some community members expressed fears that the proposal would limit their access to prized backcountry ski terrain in exchange for expensive heli-skiing that might attract tourists.

Aaron Brill, who owns Silverton Mountain with his wife, Jen Brill, did not return calls seeking comment.

“This is public land, but it’s just being given to Brill for his own private use,” said Nicole Bellman, a property manager in the Silverton area. “The land that he’s requesting is some of the best, secure, accessible lines in San Juan County.”

The request to the BLM was made on behalf of Silverton Guides, the arm of Silverton Mountain that provides heli-skiing adventures. Connie Clementson, field manager for the BLM’s Tres Rios Field Office, said there is no proposed increase in authorized use. She said the owners have simply proposed a change in terrain.



Silverton Mountain’s base would be directly across from the terrain under consideration. The new areas would include property to the south, west and north of the base area.

The terrain is currently entirely above tree line, though the request would include terrain below tree line. The BLM said no tree-cutting would be required, the Durango Herald reported (https://tinyurl.com/pagl32k ).

Bellman said attracting skiers to the area does not outweigh locals having access to public lands.

“He’s increasing tourism, but totally defacing our mountains that we are living here for,” Bellman said. “At this point, it’s not about the tourism.”

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Information from: Durango Herald, https://www.durangoherald.com

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