Keystone Resort, CO, Gets Approval to Restart Bergman Bowl Project

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Bergman Bowl at Keystone Resort, CO. Credit: Resort Facebook

Keystone Resort, CO, provided an update yesterday on the Bergman Bowl project that was shut down by US Forest Service officials last month. The US Forest Service requested construction be halted immediately after learning that an “unauthorized road had been bulldozed through sensitive areas where minimal impacts were authorized”, reports Vail Daily. Construction of access roads in alpine tundra isn’t traditionally allowed.

After working closely with the Forest Service, Keystone’s restoration plan to fully restore the affected area has been approved and work on the project can restart. However, this delay and ongoing inspections mean the project will not be ready for next winter. There will be no lift-served access to Bergman Bowl next winter, but Keystone does plan to open Bergman Bowl with hike-to skiing and riding.

White River National Forest supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams told the Colorado Sun that the restoration plan was the “best he had ever seen in his life.”

“Quite honestly, it’s the best restoration plan I’ve ever seen in my life. Even our staff are like ‘Oh my god. The restoration plan submitted by Keystone is extremely detailed, thorough and includes all the necessary actions to insure the damage is restored as best as possible.”

– Scott Fitzwilliams

The full update from Chris Sorensen, VP & GM at Keystone Resort, is below:

Over the last month, Keystone Resort has been working closely with the U.S. Forest Service on issues that arose during construction of the approved Bergman Bowl project. Following an assessment of the situation, I have some important updates to share.

I am pleased to share that the U.S Forest Service has approved our restoration plan intended to fully restore the affected area in the high alpine. In partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, we started some of this work after their initial notification to us in July, and we look forward to continuing this work now that we have a fully approved restoration plan to execute. 

While we are pleased with this news, it is important to note that the U.S. Forest Service has determined that high alpine portions of our project will need to undergo further environmental review. As a result, Keystone will not complete the Bergman Bowl Express lift for the 2022/23 season. I am disappointed to share this news with our guests and community. I know many were looking forward to this new lift-serviced terrain at the resort, including myself and the Keystone team, but for this winter, we do plan to open Bergman Bowl with hike-to skiing and riding.

The U.S. Forest Service also told us certain aspects of the project’s implementation may continue that are independent of the impacted area, including the expansion of the Outpost Restaurant that is planned to open this winter, as well as snowmaking and trail work that will set us up well for continued work to bring the full Bergman Bowl project to life.

Our priority is preserving and caring for our natural environment. We take our role as stewards of the environment and of National Forest Service Land extremely seriously, and we will operate with that at the heart of the work we execute for the restoration plan and the full Bergman Bowl project.

We are grateful for the U.S. Forest Service’s partnership throughout our work together on this project. We greatly respect their expertise and look forward to working together on both the restoration plan and the supplemental environmental review. We are optimistic that we will be able to complete the Bergman Bowl project next summer for the 2023/24 season.

It’s been a tough summer for Vail Resorts as it attempts to upgrade and improve its resorts. At Park City, UT, the planning commission ‘shockingly blocked‘ two previously approved chairlift upgrades, and in Vail, CO, previously approved plans to build employee housing have been shelved after the property was condemned as the parcel is critical for bighorn sheep.

After discovering “damage to the alpine environment and impacts to wetlands” in Bergman Bowl, Scott Fitzwilliams with the USFS issued a cease and desist letter to Vail Resorts, which they complied with immediately, adds Vail Daily.

“We’re a long-term partner with Vail, and they’ve been a good partner. I’m confident we’ll be able to work through this, but it’s serious. We take this very serious.”

– Scott Fitzwilliams

Chris Sorenson, vice president and general manager at Keystone Resort, explained that the mistake was a misunderstanding by the company’s construction team, and the company is accepting full responsibility for the mistake. Vail Resorts has since hired a contractor to formulate a restoration plan.

“We are working closely with the U.S. Forest Service on an issue that arose during construction. Specifically, an area that was supposed to have a minimal construction route was instead approached as a temporary construction route. This was due to a misunderstanding by our construction team, for which we take full responsibility.

Keystone Resort has a long history of successful partnership with the U.S. Forest Service on projects that provide guests the opportunity to enjoy outdoor recreation within our National Forest. We take this mistake seriously, and at their direction have paused some work at the site while the USFS conducts an assessment to determine next steps.

We deeply regret the impact this unauthorized construction activity has had on the environment that our team works carefully to protect every day. We take environmental protection and compliance extremely seriously and are committed to making this right.

At this time, we do not yet know if this will impact the opening of lift-served terrain at Bergman Bowl this season. We will provide more information as we continue to work in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service.”

– Chris Sorensen, VP & GM at Keystone Resort

The White River National Forest approved Keystone’s plans for the new Bergman Bowl project in November 2020, with work beginning earlier this summer. The project will bring lift service to a portion of Keystone’s high alpine, above the treeline, terrain. A high-speed detachable quad chair will serve Bergman and neighboring Erickson Bowl, adding 555 acres of lift-served terrain to the resort.

Bergman Bowl Statistics:

  • Runs: 13 + gladed terrain
  • Skiable Acres: 555
  • Chairlift: High-speed quad
  • Base Elevation: 11,300 ft.
  • Summit Elevation: 12,300 ft.

Keystone is located in Summit County, CO, next to the likes of Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, and Loveland. The ski resort opened in 1970 and has since grown to 20 lifts and over 3,000 skiable acres. Since 1997, the mountain has been owned by Vail Resorts and is a part of the Epic Pass.

Along with the terrain expansion and new chairlift, Keystone will be adding additional infrastructure to the area. 20 acres of snowmaking, an expanded Outpost restaurant at the top of North Peak, and a ski patrol station at the top of the new Bergman Bowl chairlift will enhance the new project and skier experience.

With the new terrain, Keystone hopes to spread out crowds and provide a new experience for visitors. Previously, the terrain in Bergman Bowl and the surrounding area was accessible only by hiking and snowcat. Beginners and Intermediates will rejoice as they are able to experience above the treeline skiing in the new lift-served zone.

Bergman Bowl
Bergman Bowl proposal. Photo Credit: Keystone Resort

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