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Proposed new gondola, 15 other projects at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort are closer to reality


JACKSON, Wyoming — A proposed new gondola and 15 other projects on the slopes of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort have won preliminary approval from the U.S. Forest Service, including a zip line and expansion of the Casper restaurant.

Bridger-Teton National Forest, the land manager in charge of the ski area, signed off on a draft decision notice and "finding of no significant impact" for the projects. The tentatively approved plans are now subject to an objection process and public review.

Bridger-Teton supervisor Patricia O'Connor said in a statement that the resort's improvement plan provides enhanced winter and summer opportunities.

"Concentrating recreational use such as skiing and downhill mountain biking makes them more accessible and affords the forest the opportunity to meet public demands," the statement said.

O'Connor's decision would allow the ski resort to build the 4,500-foot Sweetwater gondola in one of two places. One alignment would place the upper terminal just above Casper restaurant, while the second potential site is located just below the intersection of the Togwotee and Solitude traverses, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported (http://bit.ly/1fb2pU1 ).

Few significant changes were made to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort's plan since the proposal was publicly issued last winter. The plans had for years been included in the resort's master plan that the Bridger-Teton has signed off on in concept.

The Bridger-Teton's decision includes 39 features intended to protect watersheds and wildlife, and bring the resort's projects into compliance with U.S. Forest Service regulations.

One feature requires that the edge of ski runs blend in with natural vegetation. Another feature calls for rope safety backups for novice climbers.

Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, http://www.jhnewsandguide.com

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