Chapman Wins a Round in Seeking Bear Creek Closures
by Watch Staff
Dec 01, 2010 | 5414 views | 7 7 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TELLURIDE – The Telluride Ski Resort announced on Wednesday that it is canceling its backcountry guide program in the Bear Creek drainage, citing a “lack of alignment with private owners of mining claims in the drainage.”

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.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
December 16, 2010
An inholding on federal land is a bastard form of property, created in the 19th century for a specific, now obsolete purpose. (mining) It should not be accorded the same property rights as "normal" property. The law should have long ago been reformed. One partial solution for Colorado would be a statewide ballot initiative making it no crime to trespass on an inholding, and at the same time relieving owners of inholdings of any liability if a trespasser is injured in any way. Chapman is disingenuous when he claims he is merely defending property rights. He is actually exploiting a failure of our political/legal system to update itself.
December 14, 2010
THank you for the Paul Harvey side of the story.

So, Mr. Chapman is going to be a miner; ok, we will look into the applicability of mining laws and the impact on the water shed.

See you then,
December 14, 2010
To "ResponsibleFreePress" and other interested readers............Tom Chapman is really NOT "The Grinch Who Stole the Christmas Ski Slopes in Telluride." Read all about it at:

December 04, 2010
Chapman has built nothing but a reputation for legally extorting to prevent some action.

He has never built a railroad, mined a mine, built anything as far as I can tell.

Clever? Yes. A man who built anything? No. (Unless you count his sad reputation).
December 04, 2010
Has that last word in the article, "conservationists," become, through widely accepted English usage, in concept, though not literally, synonymous with “communists” and/or people of the "communal property religious experience," maybe The Creed of a California or Boulder cult? Tom Chapman is a man of conviction and principle, his kind having arrived and built the railroads, the mines, the towns, WAY and LONG before Telski and the California, New York crowd discovered the place as a playground to spend the fruits of their Capitalist success, at times using the Cover to distract from that fact, the “Conservationist/Communist“ Ideology.....Best to All for The Hollidays!

December 02, 2010
Well, this is probably a good call to let it go publicly.

Stick Chapman with his 250k mining claim that we can ski over as we descend...

So, if this was to be the draw to bring more development to Tride then maybe we should have tax holidays, pro development councils, rent reductions, cost reductions...the common sense ideas used by other entities to support local communities..

So far, all the good thinking by the professional planners has gotten us to fire sales on the Peaks, bankruptcies at the Capella and Inn Lost Creek, empty store fronts, satirical dvds (the lost people), general poverty for the working stiff...

Perhaps Priceline for ski tickets and hotel rooms when demand is less...mid week and slow what the airlines do..they sell into the discount stream and bring in marginal revenue without compromising their published pricing and brand strategies..

OK...well see you next in BC..leaving a nice present for our friend Tom Chapman.
December 01, 2010
Hmmmmm, I wonder if the bear creek survey could be sorted by skier/snowboard and non-skier/snowboarder?

Again, it's my belief the survey methodology with respect to the probable population of survey respondents amounts to nothing short of asking a group of chocolate lovers if they'd like this or that new chocolate product.

As to Chapman & guided skiing: I'm not sure what to make of the situation at this point other than I personally wish there will NEVER be any form of mechanical industrialization implemented in Bear Creek, nor the exclusion of public access. How this comes to be, I could care less. It would be interesting if Chapman & West contracted with other private guide services to allow access for a fee & if the NFS would grant a permit & if Telski would contest a private entity offering a service which began after they exited the gate (assuming the guide & clients all had paid lift fees). Maybe that could be put together this winter ... the NFS seemed to react quickly to approve Telski's request for guided skiing.