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Fort Collins residents hoping for local ski resort

By: The Associated Press
February 15, 2015 Updated: February 15, 2015 at 8:29 pm
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FORT COLLINS - Skiing isn't convenient for those who live in Northern Colorado.

Cameron Pass is 70 miles up Colorado Highway 14 and offers cross-country skiing.

Rocky Mountain National Park used to have a resort, Hidden Valley, but it was shut down by the National Park Service in the early 1990s.

Sharktooth Ski Area was just as likely to have dust storms as snowstorms at the Windsor-area ski hill that closed in the 1980s.

Developments to build a ski resort on Cameron Pass-area Seven Utes Mountain fizzled in the mid-1990s.

Fort Collins annually makes "best of" lists for its expansive outdoor recreation opportunities, but it isn't a ski destination.

Denver, Colorado Springs and Boulder are directly impacted by Colorado's ski tourism, said Jim Clark, CEO of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and former president of Visit Fort Collins.

"Skiing doesn't have an impact on Fort Collins. There's no connection," Clark said. "It's an issue of geography."

Cameron Pass and the Hidden Valley area or Twin Sisters Peaks, near Estes Park, offer the most potential for a Northern Colorado ski resort.

With an average snowfall of 250 inches, a ski season spanning November to April and similar powder to Steamboat, Seven Utes Mountain was praised in the 1970s by backcountry skiers and the Forest Service alike for its potential as a ski resort.

In 1993, California developer Fred Sauer unveiled his plan to build a new ski resort - The Resort at Seven Utes - on the north face of Seven Utes Mountain in Jackson County near Gould.

The Colorado State Land Board owns the 4,200 acres in the Colorado State Forest, and Sauer planned to lease 3,000 acres from the state and trade land elsewhere for the other 1,200 acres. The development would have been built in two five-year phases, with the resort opening for the 1998-99 ski season.

Opponents led by Don Ewy, a self-employed logger, Gould and Walden residents overwhelmingly opposed the development, saying The Resort at Seven Utes would turn the area into "Six Flags over Cameron Pass."

"I felt that the way it was being handled, it would have been a disaster. Our county is a very small county, and I didn't think the county could handle that type of development."

The sale of state trust land is prohibited, so Sauer's plan would have required a complicated land exchange approved by the state's legislature. The resort also would have bordered Routt National Forest and Rocky Mountain National Park, further complicating land permits.

The Resort at Seven Utes proposal was rejected by the land board in December 1993. No serious plans for a ski resort near Cameron Pass have surfaced since.

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