Does Taos Deserve a 'D' on Expansion Plans?

Hiking the Ridge at Taos Ski Valley

Can a ski area grow and be green? Must a ski area expand to remain competitive and attract skiers and boarders? Does proposing a development plan make a ski area less environmentally friendly? These aren't rhetorical questions, they apply to ski areas worldwide. For example, Taos Ski Valley has presented a 10-year Master Development Plan to the Forest Service. As Taos Ski Valley operates on Forest Service land the public is invited to comment on the development plans. So, here are a few of mine.

The Ski Area Citizen's Coalition has already commented on the Taos Ski Valley Master Development Plan in their 2011 Ski Area Report Card. TSV got a 'B' on the 2010 Report Card and that score fell to a 'D' in 2011 based on their proposed development plan. Taos was demoted to the 'Worst Ten' ski areas list for presenting an as-yet unapproved development plan. That seems to be harsh judgement for a plan that is still only on paper.

According to Taos Ski Valley, 'These projects include glading new terrain, the addition of new facilities, the installation of 2 new lifts, and replacing outdated lifts.' The full Master Development Plan can be viewed here. For anyone who has skied (or snowboarded) Taos I strongly recommend reviewing the plans. If you are familiar with the ski area and its terrain the proposed changes and additions are clear and easy to follow on the .pdf maps. Of the proposed projects, two of the most visible changes would be the new Main Street and Ridge Lifts which would deliver skiers to Kachina Peak and the West Basin Ridge which are currently accessed by hiking only.

The Carson National Forest welcomes 'comments at any time during the NEPA process; however, comments will be most effective if received by January 17, 2011.'
Please send your written comments to:
Carson National Forest
Taos Ski Valley MDP Phase 1 Projects
208 Cruz Alta Road
Taos, NM 87571
Fax: (575) 586-0521

Frankly, I think much of the development plan is reasonable and would be an improvement for skiers and boarders. However, I don't love all of the plan. I've been skiing Taos for many years and I do love the mountain. As I've become a better skier my appreciation has grown for the truly expert terrain at Taos. I am reading the 141 page Master Development Plan and will be sending the Forest Service a well considered letter soon. I think that Taos Ski Valley deserves no less. What do you think?

More Info:

Taos Ski Valley Master Development Plan

Carson National Forest NEPA Projects - Taos Ski Valley's 2010 Master Development Plan - Phase 1 Proposed Projects

Ski Area Citizen's Coalition - 2011 Ski Area Report Card - 10 greenest (and dirtiest) ski areas