The Caribou-Targhee National Forest has given the public more time to submit comments on proposed lift additions, infrastructure improvements, boundary expansion, and new trail development at Grand Targhee Resort. The deadline for submission is now Oct. 12.
The ski hill operates on public land with a special use permit through the Forest Service. In its Master Development Plan, Grand Targhee outlines how it intends to provide additional lift-served terrain off Lightning Ridge and in the South Bowl area of Peaked; improve skier circulation with glading and more snow-making; upgrade and add lifts; improve on-mountain guest services with new restaurants and warming huts; and expand non-winter activities. The entire proposal and the recorded open houses are available to view online at grandtargheeresorteis.org.
In two virtual open houses last week, representatives from Grand Targhee, the U.S. Forest Service, and the consultant SE Group sought to answer questions and provide more insight into the NEPA process that will eventually yield an Environmental Impact Statement for increased on-mountain development.
During the open house on Sept. 8, one attendee asked why the improvements were necessary, and suggested that Grand Targhee owner Geordie Gillett was upgrading the resort to sell it.
“I’ve given pretty much everything personally and professionally to this resort and I want to see as many people enjoy skiing in the Tetons as possible,” Gillett responded. “I’m not doing this to try and sell the ski resort, I’m doing it because I think it’s the best plan to move forward and stay competitive and be a good community member. Virtually every element of this plan has come directly from me. I think it’s what’s needed and what I hope to accomplish.”
Virtual attendees asked questions ranging from parking and traffic impacts to wolverine habitat to backcountry gates off of Peaked. Some of those questions are addressed in the project library, but for the most part the SE Group and CTNF requested that people submit substantive comments during the 45-day comment period so that the interdisciplinary team can research and analyze those impacts to the community, wildlife, visuals, and resources.
“We are going to take a very rigorous and objective view relevant to all the resource concerns and socioeconomic concerns associated with this project proposal as we move forward in a very deliberate and measured way,” CTNF Forest Supervisor Mel Bolling said at the end of the Sept. 10 open house.
The agency is seeking public input on all aspects of the proposal in order to analyze impacts and decide whether to approve the plans in whole or in part. Comments can be made on the project proposals at the Forest Service website. Written comments can also be sent to Bolling, c/o Jay Pence, Teton Basin District Ranger, P.O. Box 777, Driggs, ID 83401.
The public will also have an opportunity to comment on the draft environmental impact statement, and there will be a final objection period once the draft record of decision is released. That timeline is expected to span the next 18 months or so.