SCOPING REPORT AND RESPONSE TO COMMENT ON THE PROPOSED ACTION: JACKSON HOLE MOUNTAIN RESORT RECREATION ENHANCEMENTS PROJECT

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1 SCOPING REPORT AND RESPONSE TO COMMENT ON THE PROPOSED ACTION: JACKSON HOLE MOUNTAIN RESORT RECREATION ENHANCEMENTS PROJECT May 13, 2015 INTRODUCTION In December 2014, the Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF) issued a public scoping notice summarizing Jackson Hole Mountain Resort s (JHMR) proposed recreation enhancement projects (the Proposed Action) and inviting comments regarding the scope of the associated National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review. The recreation enhancement projects included in the Proposed Action are described in detail in JHMR s 2013 master development plan (MDP), formally accepted by the BTNF in August A public scoping notice was mailed to the agencies, organizations, and individuals on the BTNF mailing list. The notice was also posted on the BTNF website at and made available on CD or in hard-copy form to anyone requesting it. In addition to meeting NEPA s scoping requirements, this exercise also met the agency s obligations regarding public notice and comment on a proposed action, per the objection process mandated by 36 CFR 218, Subpart B. The comment period formally began on January 11, 2015, when the BTNF s Legal Notice of Comment Period was published in the Casper Star Tribune (Newspaper of Record), and closed on February 10, Comment letters were received from one agency, one organization, and three individuals. Three additional comment letters were received after the close of the comment period. The scoping notice and comment letters are included in the Project Record. This report identifies commenters, comments received, and the disposition of those comments. RESULTS Table 1 identifies each comment or letter, noting the ID code assigned to it, the name and address of the commenter, and the topic or topics raised. ID codes indicate whether the comments were from an agency, organization, or individual (A, O, and I, respectively), and the number of the comment letter within that category. 1

2 Table 1. Scoping comment log. ID Name Address Topic(s) Raised Nancy Stange, Comments Supporting the 5400 Bishop Blvd. A1 Habitat Protection Secretary Proposed Action, Wildlife, Cheyenne, WY Wyoming Game and Fish Protection Vegetation, Recreation O1 Silva Sundaresan Conservation Director Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance PO Box 2728 Jackson, WY I1 Chris Owen I2 Edith Asrow PO Box 456 Cedarville, CA PO Box 414 Teton Village, WY I3 Frank Fery Comments received after the February 10 close of the comment period. I4 Shane Rothman 980 Snow King Drive Jackson, WY I5 Robert J. Werner Box 70 Teton Village, WY I6 Robert J. Werner Box 70 Teton Village, WY Comments Supporting the Proposed Action, Wildlife, Watershed, Recreation, NEPA Process Proposed Action, Recreation, Watershed, Vegetation NEPA Process, Recreation, Commercial Activities Comments Supporting the Proposed Action, Vegetation, Proposed Action Vegetation, Wildlife, Recreation, Soils, Visual Resources Visual Resources Recreation PROCESSING OF COMMENTS Methodologically, a key step in the scoping process is determining which comments affect the scope of the NEPA analysis and which do not. Comments that do not affect the scope of the analysis include those that: Express an opinion without an associated issue or concern. Are outside the scope of the decision to be made. Are addressed by other regulations, laws, or higher-level decisions (e.g., the Forest Plan). Are conjectural or not supported by science. Comments on a proposed action are not subject to the same screening criteria as scoping comment. The Responsible Official will consider all written comments on the proposed action that meet the criteria outlined in 36 CFR and 36 CFR (a). However, in order to establish eligibility to object under 2

3 the pre-decisional administrative review process, specific written comments should be within the scope of the Proposed Action, have a direct relationship to the Proposed Action, and must include supporting reasons for the responsible official to consider. The comments received were associated with aspects of this NEPA process, various resource-specific concerns, and opinions regarding the Proposed Action or elements of it. Given the limited number of comments received, all are included in this report. Each comment is quoted, in italics, under the appropriate topic or resource area, followed by a discussion of how it is being considered in this NEPA review. If multiple comments by the same commenter identify a similar issue, then only one of those comments is included. Under each topic heading, comments that affect the scope of the NEPA are identified and discussed first, followed by comments that do not affect the scope of the analysis. Discussion of the latter explains why the comment does not affect the scope. Note that more than one comment may be addressed by a single discussion. Conversely, several comments were received that address multiple components of the analysis in the same comment. For example, a single comment may address the soil and the water quality components. Such comments have been categorically placed with whichever component appears to be the primary subject of the comment. Significant issues are those that help to formulate alternatives, prescribe mitigation measures, or analyze environmental effects. The Responsible Official will confirm the issues to be addressed in the Environmental Assessment (EA) and identify any significant issues. NEPA Process Comments grouped under this heading deal with various aspects of the NEPA process rather than specific environmental effects, which are addressed later in this report. We are glad to see that this suite of projects are [sic] presented together in a way that we believe will allow a thorough impact analyses [sic] through this assessment process. We look forward to an assessment that includes a full analyses [sic] of the environmental impacts of the proposed projects. (O1-2) Discussion: In accordance with NEPA and the Council on Environmental Quality and Forest Service regulations regarding its implementation, the EA will address the direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental effects of the Proposed Action and alternatives. The specific issues addressed are being identified through this scoping process and internal, interdisciplinary review of the proposal. Purpose and Need The following comments and questions were raised regarding the purpose and need for the Proposed Action. None affect the scope of the analysis. I understand that it is important for them to have the proper infrastructure to support their growth. But, I do not feel it is necessary for them to continue to make new trails by removing trees and blasting rocks and using heavy machinery to grade our public lands to accommodate intermediate skiers. (I4-2) 3

4 I have never met anyone who desires to have our terrain features destroyed. Our natural terrain is what makes JHMR an elite ski area, and I feel that adding new trails and even a concrete overpass will contribute to changing the character of the mountain that is our valley s identity. (I4-5) Enough areas of large boulders have disappeared from the mountain, and I highly recommend that this unique habitat should be kept intact for both the benefit of the many skiers and snowboarders who live at or visit Jackson Hole for the action packed terrain. (I4-7)Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has terrain that provides it a unique competitive advantage; A [sic] long sustained pitch, significant vertical, big mountain skiing, and expert terrain. Future improvements should build on these core competencies and key success factors, not just improving novice and intermediate terrain. (I3-2) Washakie and Grizzly Run Development: These are fairly sparsely treed already, again with many healthy White Bark Pines. I do not think further clearing would enhance them but rather the plan seems to be to blast many of the large boulders out of these areas. Discussion: These comments correctly point out that JHMR s terrain mix is heavily skewed toward advanced and expert ability levels, a fact recognized in the resort s master planning over the years. Given the mountain s topography, JHMR will never match the industry standard terrain mix targeted by ski area planners. However, the proposed efforts to develop more opportunities for beginner and intermediate skiers will meet the demands of a wider segment of the skier market. This makes sound business sense for the resort and is consistent with the Forest Service s recreation objectives. As a result, providing more terrain accessible to less advanced skiers and boarders is a sound aspect of purpose and need for the Proposed Action. As discussed in the scoping notice, Washakie and Grizzly Glades will be developed primarily through glading (i.e., selectively removing trees that restrict skier passage rather than clearing all trees) initially, then needs for further development will be re-assessed based on experience. It is anticipated that some rock removal and limited grading may be necessary on Washakie in the future, the effects of which will be addressed in the EA. Washakie run Oppose as there is too many rock outcroppings, and the run would be too steep (65-90% grade) to regularly groom. It should be left as tree skiing. (I3-12) Discussion: The scoping notice outlines the purpose and need for this project. Beyond that, tree removal on the Washakie run is intended to create a series of interconnected openings (i.e., glades) without removing all trees. As stated in the scoping notice, the run would be used for several seasons to determine whether more improvement was warranted. Given the run s southeasterly orientation, grooming may prove desirable, and runs this steep are routinely groomed with winch cats. The proposed Washakie run will also help maintain balance between uphill lift capacity and downhill run capacity following the construction of the Teton lift (see response to comment I3-13 below). Solitude run Oppose as there is already adequate runs with Upper Moran and Upper Werner. It should be left as tree skiing. (I3-13) Discussion: The scoping notice outlines the purpose and need for this run. Beyond that, a design criteria identified in the 2013 MDP for formulating improvements was to balance uphill capacity of each lift with the downhill capacity of the terrain that it serves. The Upper Moran and Upper Werner runs are currently served by the Apres Vous lift, which has an actual uphill capacity of 2,100 people per hour. The Teton 4

5 lift will have an operating capacity of 1,900 people per hour. The proposed Solitude run is necessary to maintain a balance between the increased uphill capacity in the Apres Vous and Teton pods (i.e., a lift and the ski terrain it serves), and it would also provide additional intermediate terrain. Ashley Ridge Realignment and Skier Bridge & Wide Open Run Expansion: I do not think these are a good idea. Just because Jay Kemmerer wants to have a World Cup downhill course so he can feel at home with his other ski resort pals does not seem sufficient reason to clear cut this much area and disturb a large riparian corridor. I say this only because of what I have heard over the past several winters and because why would a skier bridge be needed unless for allowing racers and public to cross paths safely. (I1-9) Discussion: The scoping notice outlines the purposes and needs for these projects, and development of a World Cup downhill course is not among them. JHMR s focus in regard to racing remains on public and club racing. Beyond that, whether JHMR intends to use these improved runs for race courses is beyond the scope of the analysis. BTNF will analyze the resource impacts of the proposed runs and skier overpass and describe them in EA Chapter 3. That description will include impacts on vegetation and riparian areas. See also the preceding response regarding JHMR s skewed terrain mix (first response under Purpose and Need). I do not believe there needs to be snowmaking at the top of Upper Wide Open so a World Cup race can be held on the only open date which is November at the very beginning or our season. I1-15) Discussion: The 2013 MDP outlined the design objectives that were used to determine which runs would be considered for snowmaking coverage. Expanding snowmaking coverage onto Upper Wide Open run would meet several of those objectives, including: maintaining a competitive position with other destination ski resorts where snowmaking coverage is a key element in marketing programs, guaranteeing the availability of ski trails for all skier abilities, providing durable snow cover on areas of high snowpack erosion rates due to sun or wind exposure. See also the preceding response regarding the purpose and need for this run. Via Ferrata Installation: I do not support this. A via ferrata is a way that people made easy classic routes in the Alps with one or two exposed climbing moves safer by adding a cable or ladder. This is a bastardized version aimed to be a tourist activity. I witnessed one of these be built in Red River Gorge which resulted in a few thousand bolts and iron rungs and cables being drilled into the rock. I would not like to see this anywhere in the Tetons. Is there not a bolting ban just a few hundred feet away in the park? (I1-19) Discussion: As described in the MDP and summarized in the scoping notice, the purpose and need for the Via Ferrata and interconnected hiking trails is to allow recreationists to enjoy this steep and rocky area and experience the thrill of rock climbing without providing their own equipment and without the risks of unprotected scrambling and climbing. The number of bolts used to construct the Via Ferrata would be limited to that required to ensure user safety. The bolting ban in Grand Teton National Park does not apply to the land administered by the BTNF, and the ban on all fixed climbing equipment issued by the Forest Service in 1998 only applies to wilderness areas under its jurisdiction. JHMR s short term plans for the year 2017 should focus on managing their infrastructure to handle projected growth. (I4-11) 5

6 Discussion: As discussed in the MDP and summarized in the scoping notice, the purpose and need for several proposed projects is to comfortable accommodate growing visitor numbers. The 35 percent increase in out-of-base capacity provided by the proposed Sweetwater Gondola, the additional skier services at the expanded Casper Restaurant, and the ability to maintain good ski conditions on more terrain through expanded snowmaking coverage are prime examples. Proposed Action The following comments and questions were raised regarding the elements of the Proposed Action what it includes rather than the rationale for it. None affect the scope of the analysis. Also there seems to be no note of the beginner s areas to be cleared. From figure 1 it looks as though the area below Solitude Way between Antelope Flats and Moose Alley would be cleared and also a new run between Eagles Rest Run and Pole Line Road has been drawn in. These are younger stands of fir and pine and could be logged without much disturbance due to existing roads. (I1-5) Discussion: As indicated in the scoping notice, about 4 acres will be cleared around the Solitude conveyor lift. The EA will describe the project in more detail in Chapter 2. The new run between Eagle s Rest and Pole Line Road included in the MDP is not part of the current proposal. I support the renovating or remodeling the existing Casper restaurant, but not the proposed moving of it to the Solitude and Togwotee Traverse crossroads. This would disturb a large new area. (I1-7) Discussion: The Proposed Action includes the remodeling and expansion of Casper Restaurant but not its relocation. At some point, JHMR could determine that a new facility was needed at the upper terminal of the Sweetwater Gondola under Option 2, but no such facility has been proposed or would be authorized on the basis of this analysis. Options and Alternatives The following questions and comments suggest alternatives to the Proposed Action, particularly additions to it. Alternatives suggested by commenters will be addressed in EA Chapter 2, either as alternatives carried into detailed analysis or as alternatives considered but not analyzed in detail, for the reasons cited in the discussion. We would like to continue to work with JHMR to establish a designated game retrieval access point for hunters. (A1-3) Discussion: This is an administrative matter that does not need to be considered through NEPA. An agreement between JHMR and Wyoming Game and Fish Department regarding access points for hunters is outside of the scope of the Proposed Action and this analysis. Such an agreement would require a separate negotiation, which can occur at any time. We will pass this comment on to JHMR. The Gondola Option 2 top terminal should be moved either above the Solitude Traverse and/or north of the current diagram so that skiers can access the Solitude Traverse without hiking uphill. (I3-5) 6

7 Discussion: The terminal location indicated in the scoping notice was identified by JHMR, working with their ski are planners, as the best site. It would require less extensive excavation and grading, and it would allow less restricted skier circulation, including skier flow on the Solitude and Togwotee Pass traverses, than either of the suggested locations. It would require skiers to move a short distance to get on Solitude Traverse. Based on these considerations, the EA will not analyze these alternative terminal locations in detail. Ashley Ridge run (55% grade) The trail should be cut [sic] many tree islands left in place. These would provide shade to protect the snow, and avoid south facing burn off. (I3-8) Ashley Ridge run (55% grade) Instead of the proposed 150 feet nominal width, the run should be 75 feet nominal width up to a maximum of 100 feet width. (I3-9) Discussion: At JHMR, tree islands impede operation of the winch cats needed to groom slopes as steep as Ashley Ridge. They are impractical as a result. As to run width, 150 feet is an industry standard, though actual widths certainly vary. The final design will be adjusted during construction to match topographic and vegetation constraints while safely accommodating desirable skier density. For analysis purposes, the nominal width of 150 feet will be used to ensure that the maximum impact on resources is analyzed. Snowmaking Snowmaking proposed for Solitude Run should be re-located on existing Crags (34-47%) or Kemmerer (47-55%) runs. Because of the unique views into Granite Canyon, and more moderate grade, Crags (34-47%) will be a popular run. (I3-14) Discussion: See response to comment I1-15 above, regarding snowmaking on another run in the Teton pod. Beyond those generalities, Crags run has more northerly exposure and higher elevation that hold natural snow better, and much of Kemmerer is also higher elevation than Solitude. Snowmaking on Upper Wide Open and Solitude, coupled with good natural snow retention on Crags, should provide reliable skiing opportunities in the Teton lift pod under most conditions. Teton Return run (51%) This is not included in the proposal, but there should be a short run cut from where Wide Open crosses Togwotee Pass Traverse, East down to the gulley and South Pass Traverse. This would provide a more direct route to the Teton Lift than Upper Ashley Ridge to South Pass Traverse. (I3-15) Discussion: There are two groomable routes from Upper Wide Open to the Teton lift - Solitude Traverse to Kemmerer run and Ashley Ridge to South Pass Traverse and these provide sufficient access without developing another cut run. For simplicity sake, this should [sic] run should be re-named to Lower Wide Open. (I3-7) Discussion: We will pass this suggestion on to JHMR. Run names are outside the scope of this analysis. I only have one final comment, which is actually outside the scope of the Proposed Action, but it relates to amenities in the Base Area. In the 1972 Master Plan, Appendix B History they wrote: The Village was to have a good mix of single family dwellings (Chalet), condominium apartments and commercial lodges. On the ground flours [sic], the lodges were to contain 7

8 commercial establishments, such as: restaurants, bars, night clubs, ski shops, clothing stores, drugstores, delicatessens, boutiques, bakeries, craft shop, groceries, etc. The general atmosphere was to be a mountain village, summer and winter; not a ski resort as such. (p. 73, 1972 Master Plan). In my 35 years coming to the Resort I have witnessed a loss of the diversity of businesses, rather than the enhancement of a mountain village atmosphere. Village development appears more focused on high end lodging and restaurants. A delicatessen? A Bakery [sic]? Where is there to stroll on a lovely winter s evening? (I2-3) Discussion: As the commenter states, development of commercial amenities in the base area is outside of the scope of the Proposed Action. The base area is on privately-owned land, and includes commercial space that is owned and operated by JHMR, owned but rented by JHMR to other entrepreneurs, and owned and operated by other private entities. The BTNF is unable to stipulate the types of commercial amenities available. We will however pass this comment on to JHMR. Connected Actions and Cumulative Effects The following comment was raised regarding actions connected to the Proposed Action and the cumulative environmental effects of the Proposed Action when viewed in the context of other past, present, or reasonably foreseeable actions with the potential to impact the same resources. None affect the scope of the analysis. I do have a concern regarding the trail development for Ashley Ridge, Wide Open, Washakie, Grizzly Glade, and Solitude Runs. My concern is not so much that [sic] development of these trails, but rather why these trail developments are part of the current Proposed Action instead of being included in the Forest Service analysis and approval for the Teton lift, when they are clearly connected actions. In other words, why were these trail improvements not included in the Environmental Analysis process for the Teton lift? I would like to see the new Environmental Assessment address why the approval for the Teton lift was made without approving these trail developments directly connected to installation of the Teton lift, with associated cumulative effects. (I2-1) Discussion: The Teton lift (called the Crags lift at the time) and associated trails including the upper half of Solitude run (called New Crags 1), Washakie (called New Crags 3), and Upper Wide Open (called New Wide Open) were included in JHMR s 1994 MDP, analyzed in the 1996 EIS, and authorized in the 1996 ROD. As this pod had not been developed several years later, NEPA review of the lift and trails was refreshed in the 2000 EA and re-authorized in the 2000 DN/FONSI. More time passed, and the previous authorization was addressed in a 2013 Supplemental Information Report, which supported keeping the previous authorization in place. Some of the work on development of this pod has been completed as authorized (e.g., clearing the lift alignment, Kemmerer, and Crag runs), other authorized elements of the pod have been modified (e.g., grading of Upper Wide Open, realignment of Ashley Ridge), and some elements have been added (e.g., development of Grizzly Glades run). In short, development of this pod has been analyzed and approved as a unit three times in the past, ensuring consideration of connected actions and cumulative effects. What remains to be addressed in this EA is modifications and additions to development of the pod that were not previously addressed. 8

9 The Physical and Biological Environment Comments under this heading address potential impacts on physical and biological resources in general or on specific subsets of these resources. Most pertain to the scope of the analysis. Soil, Water, and Watershed Resources My main concerns are the proposed new trails which would require clearcut trails and massive grading efforts. (I4-1) Discussion: Potential impacts on soils and other potentially impacted resources will be discussed in appropriate sections of EA Chapter 3. To minimize the impacts to aquatic resources of nearby waterways, we recommend the following: (A1-13; see letter for list of generic aquatic BMPs) Discussion: As appropriate, based on the impact analysis documented in the EA, the BTNF s decision will require JHMR to implement the pertinent mitigation measures recommended by WGFD, WDEQ, and Forest Service resource specialists to contain sediments and pollutants, re-vegetate disturbed areas, protect riparian areas from fuel and fluids used to service equipment, and contain the spread of aquatic invasive species. We would also like to see how grading impacts will be minimized and mitigated in the riparian or stream areas, for example, along the solitude run. (O1-8) The bottom of Ashley Ridge and its intersection with Beavertooth is a drainage. (I1-10) Solitude Run Development: This proposed run follows a gully down the skiers right of Moran Run and would further disturb the drainage that was rerouted and put into a sewer drain to go underneath the bottom of the Teton Lift. I1-12) Hiking Biking Trail Expansion: The only issue I can see is with the trail down in Sundance Gulley. It crosses the drainage 26 times which from a trail construction standpoint means a lot of bridges or big turnpikes and drains. (I1-18) Discussion: Potential impacts on drainage channels, streams, wetlands, and riparian areas will be discussed in the soil, water, and watershed section of EA Chapter 3. Mitigation measures, best management practices, or alternative actions may be considered depending on the results of the resource effects analysis. Any permits required under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act or other pertinent regulations will be obtained prior to construction. Vegetation The bottom of Ashley Ridge and its intersection with Beavertooth and Upper Wide Open has many stands of healthy White Bark Pines (there were also many healthy stands at the top of the crags before they were all cleared for the Teton Lift Terminal.) (I1-11) Washakie and Grizzly Run Development: These are fairly sparsely treed already, again with many healthy White Bark Pines. I do not think further clearing would enhance them (I1-13) 9

10 My environmental concerns are related to tree removal. Runs should not be cut too side, and tree islands should be left where possible. (I3-1) Also, instead of continuing the removal of many of the bushes on this mountain, I think it would be more beneficial to simply practice selective thinning. For instance, it would be nice if there was an array of windy or narrow lands cut through the heavy brush at the bottom of the Hobacks, but instead every single bush was cut. (I4-8) I do not want to see significant clearing happen to the many areas around the Sweetwater Lift that contains thicker foliage, and I believe that the entire area below South Pass is the most biodiverse area on the mountain (I4-9) Discussion: Potential impacts on vegetation, including whitebark pine and other special status species, will be discussed in the vegetation section of EA Chapter 3. Mitigation measures, best management practices, or alternative actions may be considered depending on the results of the resource effects analysis. See discussion under comments I3-8 and I3-9 above. Wildlife We recommend that impacts to bighorn sheep and mule deer, specifically during summer, be analyzed for the Casper Bowl and Crags areas. (A1-1) We recommend that the Forest Service analyze potential impacts to goshawks, great gray owls, and peregrine falcons at the mid and high elevations in the project area. (A1-2) Sweetwater gondola installation: We support the option 1 alignment because option 2 would likely fragment a relatively large forested area and require more trees to be removed. This large, forested area likely provides habitat for a variety of species in the summer and winter. (A1-4) Solitude conveyor lift installation (Carpet): We recommend that the BTNF consider how this structure would impact moose and mule deer movement during the summer. (A1-5) We are concerned that summer trail construction in the Casper Bowl and Crags areas would introduce human activity to an otherwise undisturbed and undeveloped area. This area is 9,000-9,500 feet in elevation, and is mainly comprised of cliffs, talus fields, and steep, montane meadows. No formal wildlife surveys are known for this area, but we anticipate that it could serve as habitat for pika, peregrine falcons, and wolverine. It is mapped as suitable bighorn sheep winter and summer habitat and a summer deer use area This area may serve as a bighorn sheep movement corridor between BTNF and Grand Teton National Park. We recommend that the BTNF consider how introducing summer activities into this area would impact those species. (A1-12) Specifically, we would like to see analyses that show how new winter use and ski runs, including additional visitor impact will affect the bighorn sheep herd in the Tetons. (O1-4) Currently, the mountain sees only slight human use in the summer. How will new trails impact mule deer summer range? Recent studies by the Teton Research Institute of the Teton Science Schools show that mule deer use the areas above the mountain intensively during summer. Will 10

11 new recreation trails and associated increased human use impact mule deer habitat in this area? (O1-5) We are also keen to see analysis of impacts on other species such as pikas, especially since new trails appear to be located in habitat of those species. (O1-6) Finally, please describe any impacts of proposed tree clearing on birds, particularly raptors and songbirds. (O1-7) Our natural terrain is what makes JHMR an elite ski area, and I feel that adding new trails and even a concrete overpass will have negative affects [sic] on the wildlife (I4-4) Enough areas of large boulders have disappeared from the mountain, and I highly recommend that this unique habitat should be kept intact for the benefit of the many mammals that use these areas for their hibernation dens (I4-6) I do not want to see significant clearing happen to the many areas around the Sweetwater Lift that contains thicker foliage, and I believe that the entire area below South Pass is the most biodiverse area on the mountain, which also contains the highest frequency of wildlife sightings. (I4-10) Discussion: Potential impacts on wildlife, including bighorn sheep, mule deer, goshawks, great gray owls, peregrine falcons, raptors, songbirds, wolverine, pika, and moose, will be discussed in the wildlife section of EA Chapter 3. Mitigation measures, best management practices, or alternative actions may be considered depending on the results of the resource effects analysis. We recommend that summer trails be designed to minimize potential conflicts between recreationists and moose, and black bears. (A1-9) We recommend the JHMR consider working with the WGFD during development of educational programs targeting summer recreationists that reduce potential wildlife conflicts. (A1-10) Discussion: Summer trail design will incorporate measures to decrease potential conflicts between recreationists and wildlife, including moose and black bears (e.g., providing long sight-lines and avoiding switchbacks and other hard turns in heavy cover). JHMR will continue to provide educational programs and materials aimed at reducing potential wildlife conflicts. Mitigation measures, best management practices, or alternative actions may be considered depending on the results of the resource effects analysis. The Human Environment Comments under this heading address potential impacts on human aspects of the environment. Most pertain to the scope of the analysis. Recreation My other concern is the [sic] how the Sweetwater Gondola, and the subsequent efficient access to the Teton Lift, will affect winter travel out of the JHMR into Granite Canyon. Where will 11

12 boundary access gates be installed? I know this access question involves close dialogue with Grand Teton National Park, but it does have an environmental impact, so I would like to see it addressed in the new Environmental Assessment. (I2-2) Discussion: The issue of skiers accessing Granite Canyon and other terrain in the Park is complex and has been analyzed and discussed in detail over time. JHMR and the BTNF work on an ongoing basis with the Park to develop and implement effective boundary management procedures. The Teton lift will likely result in more use of adjoining Park terrain, and this potential impact was analyzed in the 1996 EIS and in the 2000 EA. Those analyses included the effects of the Crystal Springs lift, with a capacity of 1,200 people per hour in the same alignment as the proposed Sweetwater Gondola, and the BTNF approved that lift. We do not believe that the upgrade to a gondola with a similar capacity (JHMR estimates that about 30 percent of the 2,000-people-per-hour gondola s ridership would offload at the mid-station) would appreciably alter the affects described in the two previous analyses, so this issue will not be re-addressed in this EA. We would like the Forest Service to evaluate whether the proposed mountain biking trails (which are downhill-only and would require the purchase of a lift ticket) would help fulfill the desires of the local biking community. (A1-8) Discussion: The intent of the proposed biking trails is to provide opportunities for area visitors as well as the local biking community. Demand for lift-served trails is increasing nationwide, providing sufficient purpose and need for the proposed trail system. Locally, a conscious objective of our management framework for this activity is to develop mountain bike trails at our ski areas to take pressure off of Teton Pass and other places where user-created bike trails are a management problem. Evaluation of local demand for this form of recreation would not be relevant to the environmental effects of the proposal, so this issue will not be addressed in the EA. Also see comment A1-7 below regarding assessed local demand for downhill mountain biking. The other day I skinned up and then skied down Sundance Gully. I thought all the while that a bike trail going up there would leave small berms that would become dirt ridges after the lifts close, and that back-country skiers would lose a good route. (I6-1) Discussion: The mountain bike trail would include bermed turns, mostly on the sides of the gully. However, by the time snowmelt was advanced enough to expose these berms in the snow-filled gully, most of that portion of the mountain would be bare ground and not skiable. Accordingly, we do not believe this is an issue warranting in-depth analysis. Safety Via Ferrata Installation: Also I would not personally feel safe climbing and placing gear in Casper Bowl. Even if you found rock solid enough for an anchor there is still so much loose rock to be pulled down on the party below you. That does not sound like a good situation to put tourists seeking safe recreation opportunities in. (I1-20) Discussion: The safety section of EA Chapter 3 will address this concern. Mitigation measures, best management practices, or alternative actions may be considered depending on the results of the resource effects analysis. 12

13 Scenic Resources Our natural terrain is what makes JHMR an elite ski area, and I feel that adding new trails and even a concrete overpass will have negative affects [sic] on the scenery (I4-3) I am concerned that a bike path extension up Sundance gully, with 25 switchbacks shown on the map, would be a visual scar on the mountain. The map shows two bike path extensions on the lower part of the mountain (one up Sundance and the other up Apres Vous), and then three more on the upper part of the mountain My concern here is one of visibility. I don t want incoming tourists, or me, to see scars on the landscape.(i5-1) Discussion: Chapter 2 of the EA will include design criteria intended to minimize the visual impact of the Proposed Action. The visual resources section of EA Chapter 3 will discuss the impact of constructing new trails and the skier overpass. Mitigation measures, best management practices, or alternative actions may be considered depending on the results of the resource effects analysis. Comments Supporting the Proposed Action The following comments express support for the proposed action without providing information regarding the scope of the analysis. No discussion of these comments is required. Hiking/biking network expansion: We support that JHMR does not plan to construct biking trails above 9,100 feet (the elevation of the Bridger Restaurant). (A1-6) We support the goals outlined in the Jackson Ranger District s Summer Non-Motorized Trail Assessment, which identifies JHMR as an area to manage for relatively high trail densities. There is considerable desire from the cross-country and downhill mountain biking communities for additional trails in the Jackson Hole area. (A1-7) In large part, we support additional trail construction in areas already altered by winter infrastructure. (A1-11) Overall, we support that JHMR is proposing new projects within the Special Use Permit (SUP) envelope and that fit within the master development plan. Further, we recognize the need for year-round recreation to help our visitors and residents experience thoughtful opportunities that best connect them to nature. We support increasing the public s access to our forest land and connecting people to nature in ways that they can best steward our wildlife and habitat. (O1-1) Sweetwater Gondola Installation & Eagles Rest Triple Chair Reinstallation: I feel that these 2 are a good idea, Eagles Rest is not the most reliable of machines and it does a poor job relieving the congestion in the base area in the morning. (I1-1) And Sweetwater is a good functioning lift that could be better repurposed as a beginner chair in the new proposed Eagles Rest alignment. (I1-2) In addition the new gondola and associated storage barn would be useful and are being placed in a previously disturbed area. It also seems that a beginner ski school are would be [sic] housed in this new building which is good. (I1-3) 13

14 The adding of a magic carpet in this area would give more beginner options which the resort needs. (I1-4) I support renovating or remodeling the existing Casper restaurant (I1-6) Ski Patrol Station at the top of the Bridger Gondola: This is a good solution and would be built in a currently disturbed area. (I1-8) Snow Making System Expansion: Where this is occurring on existing disturbed runs I see no problem (I1-14) GazEx Avalanche System: This is a good idea, with the addition of the Teton Lift I understand ski patrol cannot shoot the howitzer over structures and the GazEx option seems to have worked well on the headwall and Mt. Glory. (I1-16) Hiking Biking Trail Expansion: The layouts that Ranyon has proposed in figures 1 and 2 seem well thought out. (I1-17) Zip Line Installation: I do not agree with this but it is low on the mountain where there is a lot of disturbance already. (I1-21) I strongly support Option 2 of the Sweetwater Gondola, because of the improved skier circulation, lift access, quality of ski experience and safety considerations Unfortunately, Option 1 forces faster strong skiers to mix with slower low intermediate skiers on the lengthy South Pass Traverse. Option 2 has a great number of advantages over Option 1 Considering the significant investment in installing a Gondola, and the daily operating costs incurred, the Gondola should be positioned not just for transport but to provide new enhanced skiing. (I3-4) Ashley Ridge run (55% grade) I highly support this. It provides another egress route from the Casper area. More importantly combined with Wide Open will [sic] provide another full vertical link-up run (I3-6) Upper Wide Open run (47-51%) highly support. (I3-10) Grizzly Glade run (55-65%) support. (I3-11) 14

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