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Forest Service releases documents, map of proposed Bitterroot Resort

By Kevin Maki, KECI Reporter, kmaki@keci.com
Published On: Jul 11 2013 07:22:18 PM MDT
Updated On: Jul 11 2013 10:23:19 PM MDT
LOLO, Mont. -

The Forest Service released the documents and a map of the  latest proposal to build the Bitterroot Resort. Now the entire resort would be built on National Forest land, foregoing the land that was the Maclay family homestead.

It's a rugged trip on a rough road through the Bitterroot National Forest in the Carlton Creek area above Lolo. Climb a dozen or so miles, and peer into the higher mountains and you'll see where the first ski runs would go.

For years, project supporters have marveled at the steepness.

"This project will have the largest vertical drop in North America," said project supporter Stuart Wilson.

Skiers would be shuttled to and from the ski area.

Wilson believes in this project. The retired real estate developer looks at the close proximity of an airport, the four lane-highway, water.

"I've never seen a project with so much of the necessary infrastructure in place," said Wilson.

The resort would see four phases -- two in the Bitterroot National Forest, and two in the Lolo National Forest. If it developed that far, the resort could expand even more.

The Forest Service said no twice before. But the screening process starts all over again.

"District rangers will look at it," said Boyd Hartwig from the Lolo National Forest. "There might be planning folks looking at it, and maybe a wildlife biologist."

Conservation groups have campaigned against any development in this area for years.

"Environmentally, I think it needs to be left alone," said area resident Dennis Mannel. "It needs to be left alone, to tell you the truth. Enough's enough."

Past resort plans met opposition because it encroached on a sensitive Larch research area. Wilson said that area is not in the proposed plan He said the resort would be a huge economic boost.

"I think it would be great," said Lolo resident Gary Webster. "You'd bring in jobs."

But opponents wonder how much change a resort like this would bring to Ravalli County. Some like it. Some don't.

Another Bitterroot Resort chapter has begun.

To read the proposal click here. To see the map of the proposed area click here.