Jackson officials are formally lodging their complaints about the Bridger-Teton National Forest’s analysis of Snow King’s master plan, asking the forest to consider a wider range of possibilities for development and expansion of the mountain.
After half an hour of wordsmithing Monday, the Town Council approved a letter to the forest. The letter laments the lack of variety in “alternatives” offered by the federal agency’s draft environmental impact statement on the project. Though there are four alternatives, three are nearly identical, most notably with respect to the controversial summit access road the resort wants to build.
Citing the vast amount of public comment the town received about the road, the letter argues that the U.S. Forest Service should consider more options, including the “Briggs Road” advocated by longtime King skier Rod Newcomb.
“There’s supposed to be a menu of options,” Councilor Jim Stanford said. “You can have the veggie option, or you can have shrimp, beef or chicken. But instead, largely, we got a range of alternatives that said you can have veggies or you can have grilled beef, roast beef or boiled beef.”
Councilor Jonathan Schechter, the lone vote against the letter, said he worried about approving it without taking more time to mull the implications.
“I’m a little bit leery about the idea of trying to edit something on the fly without time to reflect on it,” he said.
Though the letter is centered almost entirely on the road, Stanford said he “could’ve written many pages” on other aspects of the draft EIS, from the summit restaurant to the visual impact to the expanded ski runs.
“There’s a lot of things we’ve chosen not to comment on,” he said, “and we’ve focused on the things that consistently have been in the public efforts.”
The letter also stresses that the councilors don’t want to drag out the approval process for Snow King’s master plan any longer than necessary, or step on the Bridger-Teton’s toes.
“They’re still going through the process,” Councilor Hailey Morton Levinson said. “We don’t want to presuppose or tell them how they did it, but to highlight that we’d still like to see a little bit more.”