Telski CEO Dave Riley is quoted in the press release stating that Tom Chapman and two other private property owners in Bear Creek “have not accepted our offer to provide insurance and indemnification agreements in return for access privileges across their property.”
According to the press release, despite numerous attempts to reach out to the private landowners, the ski resort was unable to get a response.
“They literally would not return emails or agree to get together to discuss a solution,” Riley is quoted saying.
While the resort contends that the Chapman mining claims don't cause a barrier to fall line skiing in Bear Creek, it allows that the West mining claim owned by Irene West does create a barrier as there is no way to travel down through the drainage from the upper basin to the lower terrain without crossing the West property.
“Irene West sent me a letter last spring asking the ski resort to stop the guide program which crosses her property,” said Riley. “After that, she stopped communicating with us. Tom Chapman coordinated a survey of her property, so it is reasonable to assume they have been in contact with each other.”
The ski resort also announced that it will not be continuing the Bear Creek avalanche study this winter.
“We completed what we needed over the last two ski seasons to understand how avalanches work in that area,” said Riley. “At this stage, it is up to the Forest Service to manage the ever growing skier traffic in Bear Creek, and coordinate with the private landowners. Without a backcountry guide service the ski resort has no role in managing the public's use and recreation outside our U.S. Forest Service permit area. The private landowners will also have to deal with thousands of the general public crossing their property each ski season.”
Telski's announcement follows a recent on-line survey conducted by the ski resort which showed strong support for the concept of a new “Delta” lift in upper Bear Creek, the location of which solves the conflict with the private lands as there would be no reason to ski down through the bottom of the drainage.
When sorted by local zip code, seventy-four percent of the respondents voted in favor of the new lift and terrain expansion. Nationally, eighty-four percent of the respondents were in favor.
“It would not surprise me if the next action is for the Forest Service to close the Bear Creek backcountry gates, based on the private landowners' current position. It's clearly a possibility,” said Riley.
Tom Chapman has built a reputation by acquiring private inholdings within federal lands, and then seeking either to trade or sell them to the government or developing them. The practice has made him a hero to private property proponents and a villain among conservationists.