A couple of news articles in the Shoshone News Press regarding the proposed $20 million expansion of Lookout Pass Ski Area were published recently that provide insight into Lookout Pass owner Phil Edholm’s plans. A November 10th, 2010 article Here announced Lookout’s long range plans. In this article Edholm is quoted as saying that he hopes to be cutting new runs in 2012. There is a bit of a sense of a whisper campaign that the expansion will provide easy access to the Stevens Peak backcountry for ski area customers.
The second article Here from June 10th, 2011 reports that Bill Jennings has been hired by Lookout as director of marketing and sales. In this article, Edholm is quoted, “Planning for the first phase of a future expansion of the ski area to two additional peaks has been accepted by the U.S. Forest Service.” This is a misleading statement because it implies that the Forest Service has approved the plan already. Actually the NEPA process has not even begun. More on this later.
Currently the Inland Northwest Backcountry Alliance understands that Phase 1 of the proposed expansion includes 2 chair lifts and a few runs along the Idaho-Montana state-line ridge on the north side of the St. Regis drainage. The plan for subsequent expansion includes five additional chairlifts south of the St. Regis drainage to the high country between the St. Regis and Copper drainages and a large base facility and large parking area in the lower St. Regis basin. See the map of the proposed expansion Here.
The Inland Northwest Backcountry Alliance is currently monitoring the progress of Phase 1. Lookout Pass Ski area will likely be submitting its application to begin the NEPA process for the Phase 1 expansion to the Idaho Panhandle National Forest this summer. Once the process begins, there will be an opportunity to provide comments regarding the plan. Members of the Inland Northwest Backcountry Alliance will be encouraged at that time to sign up on the Idaho Panhandle National Forest’s mailing list to be able to comment on Lookout’s proposal.
The Inland Northwest Backcountry Alliance’s efforts are to keep the Stevens Peak backcountry including the area south of the St. Regis drainage undeveloped in order to preserve opportunities for backcountry skiing and snowboarding and for snowshoing.