Nordic Valley

A snowboarder at the Nordic Valley ski resort in Eden on Dec. 12, 2018. The resort operator is mulling a massive expansion, but pulled the proposal from U.S. Forest Service consideration on March 21, 2019.

OGDEN — Nordic Valley officials never received a formal response from the U.S. Forest Service on their proposed ski resort expansion, raising questions about the future of the controversial plans.

The operator pulled its proposal before the federal agency could weigh in with an official response, according to Sean Harwood, who manages the Forest Service’s Ogden Ranger District. Accordingly, there’s not much he can say about the plans, which call for a massive expansion of Nordic Valley’s skiable areas and the addition of a 4.3-mile gondola linking North Ogden and the ski resort’s existing facilities in Eden.

The Forest Service was “close” to issuing a formal response to Nordic Valley’s request for a special use permit, likely a denial, Harwood said Wednesday.

But James Coleman, chief executive officer of Mountain Capital Partners, which owns Nordic Valley, pulled the request “before we could give them an official response. Our official talking point is they pulled the proposal and that’s the end of it,” Harwood said.

The Forest Service’s response would have pinpointed any shortcomings of the Nordic Valley proposal, potentially providing a road map to guide the firm in crafting a new plan. Much of the resort’s expansion would be onto Forest Service land around Lewis Peak within the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, adjacent to the resort’s existing footprint.

But instead of a formal written response, Coleman only received informal word via a conversation with Harwood shortly before Nordic Valley withdrew its permit request on March 21.

A company representative said late last month as word trickled out that Nordic Valley had withdrawn its expansion proposal that the firm remained “fully committed” to the project. Nothing has changed since then, a rep said Wednesday, without elaboration, and the plans are still viewable online.

However, Mountain Capital Partners officials haven’t publicly said what comes next. Similarly, Harwood said he hasn’t heard from company officials. “We have not had any further conversations with them on re-submittal,” he said.

The plans have generated support from some in the North Ogden and Eden areas and opposition from others, who worry about disruption caused by the development and the visitors it might draw. Not even counting the gondola, the expansion plans are massive, increasing Nordic Valley’s skiable areas from 140 acres to 3,500 acres and adding 12 more lifts, up from three.

Harwood was tight-lipped about the exact shortcomings of Nordic Valley’s plans since the Forest Service never issued a formal response. However, he pointed to the Forest Service’s management plan for the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Any special permit request must comply with terms spelled out in such management plans, per agency guidelines.

Whether the expansion were one ski lift or 12, Harwood said, “the proposal runs into the same issues with the screening criteria,” he said. “It is inconsistent with regulations and the forest management plan.”

Particular to the Lewis Peak area, where the proposed expansion is focused, the management plan notes restrictions relative to road construction. “Any proposal for special uses in the area must consider the prohibition on road construction and potential impacts to roadless values,” it reads.

The proposal has been the focus of several public meetings dating to last year, some of them characterized by raucous outbursts by plan foes. The proposed gondola has been a particular focal point for foes as well as the potential impact to Coldwater Canyon east of North Ogden and other pristine forested areas.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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