Construction, tree removal lead to busy spring for ski area | SteamboatToday.com

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Construction, tree removal lead to busy spring for ski area

Construction work was under way Wednesday just outside Slopeside Grill at the base of Steamboat Ski Area. Summer is expected to be filled with logging and construction work as more beetle-killed trees are brought down and work begins on a promenade and the daylighting of Burgess Creek.

— Logging to remove beetle-killed pines, installing new pavers and sidewalk snowmelt systems along Ski Time Square Drive and the daylighting of Burgess Creek are some of the construction projects under way at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

"With increased activity from logging operations, resort work and ongoing base area redevelopment projects, individuals should be aware that hazards, such as exposed roadways, heavy equipment and vehicles, construction areas and unmarked obstacles, may be encountered on the mountain anytime, anywhere," a Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. news release stated.

That's hardly an exaggeration.

Logging to remove lodgepole pines damaged in the bark beetle epidemic, for example, is scheduled to begin next week. Ski Corp., through contractor Rogue Resources, will begin removing trees Monday on about 5 acres on the lower mountain, between the Concentration and Ted's Ridge ski runs.

"There will be more logging throughout the summer," Ski Corp. spokesman Mike Lane said. "Most of the areas are below Thunderhead."

Lane said lodgepole pines could be removed on about 60 acres this summer, continuing a multiyear logging effort to address bark beetle impacts. A tally of projected totals from multiple operations indicates that more than 10,000 lodgepole pines, at a broad estimate, have been removed from Mount Werner's slopes since 2008.

Including the 60 acres that could be logged this summer, Ski Corp. will have removed trees on more than 300 of the ski area's nearly 3,000 acres.

Lane said Mount Werner's diverse forest has helped preserve the ski area's cherished tree skiing, in groves of fir, aspen and spruce. He said logging has created a few new ski runs, too.

"I think it's opened up the mountain quite nicely," Lane said, citing areas off the Surprise and Vogue runs. "Those are two areas I know a lot of people were in this winter."

Additionally, Lane said, Ski Corp. crews are plowing mountain roads from the Four Points Hut to the ski base through May 4.

While logging and plowing resume on Mount Werner, public and private construction projects are under way at its base.

Lyn Halliday, spokeswoman for the city's multiyear, $20 million base area redevelopment project, said Duckels Construction crews are installing new pavers and sidewalk snowmelt systems along Ski Time Square Drive, near the entrance to Torian Plum Plaza.

Crews began removing snow this week from the ski base near Gondola Square to speed up melting and allow for eventual work on a public promenade that will stretch from One Steamboat Place to Torian Plum Plaza.

This summer's construction schedule also includes the daylighting of Burgess Creek, with amenities including seating areas and fire pits; and an improved staircase connecting the ski base to the Torian Plum area, along with a ramp, replacing the existing metal stairs.

Halliday said Duckels also has begun privately funded work for Torian Plum property owners, resurfacing Torian Plum walkways near Slopeside Grill.

Finally, Halliday said, Duckels began private work for Ski Corp. on Tuesday, removing pavers and preparing to install snowmelt systems in Gondola Square.

The ski area opens for summer activities June 15.

Some base area businesses have closed for mud season and will reopen for the summer in coming weeks.

"There's going to be a lot of activity," Halliday said about the base area. "But after mud season, all the businesses are going to be open and accessible."