Telski Buys Upper Bear Creek Mining Claim
by Karen James
May 14, 2010 | 5680 views | 43 43 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dandy Lode Immediately Adjacent to Chapman Purchases TELLURIDE – In a deal that could be interpreted as paving the way to a future ski area expansion, the Telluride Ski and Golf Company has purchased a mining claim in Upper Bear Creek. While Telski CEO Dave Riley allowed that the site could serve as the base for future lifts, he emphasized that the company has made no decision whether to seek such an expansion.

The Bear Creek drainage now contains hike-to terrain beloved by backcountry enthusiasts willing to risk awesome avalanche danger in their quest for powder. Some of its users have voiced strong opposition to any expansion of the ski area into the area, while others passionately support the idea.

TSG Asset Holding, LLC purchased the 4.11-acre parcel known as the Dandy Lode from Fern M. Honstein of Grand Junction in early April for $24,700, according to documents recorded with the San Miguel County Clerk’s Office on April 5.

Riley said he had been in discussions with the seller about the property for approximately a year and a half prior to the purchase.

“It is a potential location for a lift, but we haven’t made the decision to move forward,” with the widely speculated expansion into Bear Creek, said Riley.

“The only other purpose besides potentially expanding into the area would be whether we’d want to trade that land somewhere down the road, or just hold it for a real estate investment.”

Apart from being potentially controversial, a ski area expansion into Bear Creek would require a lengthy review and ultimate approval by the U.S. Forest Service. Moreover, there are other private inholdings in the area, most of which is federal land. Real estate speculator Tom Chapman acquired some of them last month.

“We don’t intend to do that anytime soon,” Riley said of any move toward lift-served skiing in Bear Creek. “We’re still in the listening process.”

The Telski purchase came just days after the Gold Hill Development Company, a group of investors fronted by Chapman, closed on the purchase of about 40 acres in mining claims including the Modena, Gertrude and Little Bessie Lodes that run west from Delta Bowl, and a half interest in the separate Euclid Avenue Lode, for $246,000.

Chapman is notorious for his involvement in controversial land trades with the federal government, equally admired by private property rights advocates and criticized as extortionate by public lands proponents. Within days of that purchase the group announced that public access to the parts of popular backcountry ski and hiking routes that traverse its claims had been terminated.

Although the GHDC has not yet made public its plans for its newly acquired parcels, Chapman’s modus operandi has been to buy private in-holdings surrounded by or adjacent to public land, and then threatening to develop them in order to force lucrative land trades with the federal government.

One such dealing with local significance took place in the early 1990s. At that time Chapman began building a luxury log cabin on 240 acres in the West Elk Wilderness near Paonia that he purchased for $960,000, only stopping after negotiating a land trade with the Forest Service in which he got 105 acres near Telluride he later sold for more than $4 million.

At present, Chapman has plans to build a 25,000-square-foot mansion that will dominate the highest point in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Signal Hill, if achieved. He has already built one home in the park, a one-story 4,750-square-foot luxury home overlooking the canyon, complete with its own helicopter.

Although Telski’s Dandy Lode parcel is adjacent to the GHDC’s Modena Lode, Riley said the location and timing of his company’s purchase was coincidental, and not a strategic move related to the GHDC purchases.

“We’ve always got our ear to the ground for real estate purchases that may have value to us,” said Riley. “We’ve had a relationship with the [previous] owner for quite some time.”

And while the GDHC parcels appear as though they could block access to the Telski claim by skiers and snowboarders descending Bear Creek, Riley said that the topography is such that they do not.

“Tom Chapman’s property does not prohibit skiing in Bear Creek,” he said. “His property does not prevent a chairlift from going into that location.”

“It’s a strategic purchase,” he continued. “It may or may not come into play in the future and whether we propose expansion into Upper Bear Creek.”

Comments-icon Post a Comment
this looks strange
May 19, 2010
Chapman is the one who threatened trespass on the public. Telski bought a mininig claim right next door to Chapman and didn't make that same threat, as I understand the coverage.

Who is Gold Hill Development Company anyway? Chapman said he's a mere investor. Is he fronting for someone else? Is some investigative reporting needed here?

May 19, 2010
Riley is not the one closing off our access.

Is there anybody out there that is pissed off as I am about Chapman closing hiking trails. Chapman is the Elephant in the room that seems to be ignored. He not Riley will change Bear Creek foreever if we don't give him gobs of money. Extortion pure on simple.

To think after all the abuses we see under the 1872 mining law that the special interests are so entrenched that we still can't get rid of this law

The government didn't have a right to give our lands away under the horrible law

It is about time we take our land backl
Dont forget the
May 19, 2010
additional two lifties at $8.06 each per hour.

These are the "locals" who all these economic summits are for.

Trickle, Trickle, Trickle Down.
Smoothing it out
May 19, 2010
Yes, most of Bear Creek will be groomed with Piston Bully's and the rest will be closed until the really "high yield, low volume" skiers have their fill. And I guess we can expect higher pass and ticket prices so Riley can pay off Chapman.
May 19, 2010
Keep bear creek free? Like Telluride has kept the Valley Floor Free? I guess there will not only be lifts but perfectly groomed runs then too.
wild west annie
May 19, 2010
I like expansion of lifts- it allows for mountain experience for many without hurting the environment. Summer hikers vs winter ski - nothing is greater then to be a part of the mountains. expansion allows for the survival of Telluride and MV. Personally I prefer small but that is not the way of Telluride.
Yes, the bucket
May 19, 2010
is empty when it trickles down to lifties.

There is a national average after all...

But keep your hands, minds and words off of the TMRAO, The Marketing assistance, the lodging tax-all the corporate welfare; moreover, no dissent should be published other than positive glowing thoughts of life in a company town.

Keep Bear Creek Free.
Think about it
May 19, 2010
Right now, you can drop into bear creek whenever you want. If Telski gets a hold of it-- good luck. Remember the days when Gold Hill didn't open until noon? Revelation opened at 1? Palmyra Peak didn't open at all? When do you think Bear Creek is going to open? And by the way, you're lucky to be making $13/hr at Telski. Dave Riley pays the lowest wages in town-- and it's less than $13/hr.
FaceOnMars (nli)
May 18, 2010
Say What: you stated

"You have this habit of asserting opinions as facts and then drawing erroneous conclusions from them. Expanding into BC is not about marketing, as you declare it to be, except in the broadest sense. It is about improving the product"

... then go on to quote my previous statement:

"it's a private entity which is possibly attempting to garner (unique and rare) public lands for their own constrained marketing purposes"

Let's break this down:

"Private Entity" = fact

"possibly" = admittance of uncertainty

remainder of text = reasonable hypothesis

So, I'm not sure how you draw the conclusion that my theories are being asserted as facts?

If you knew me, I'm typically willing to give anyone the benefit of the doubt -- almost beyond reason. I try to choose my words carefully on this count (as well a concern about the possibility of getting SLAM'd -- although it would be a very big tactical mistake to do so, for a number of reasons).

I'm actually deeply interested in what constitutes "something" as being a "fact" on a philisophical level as well as other epistemological study:

Getting back to Bear Creek: I might not be privy to the true motivations for a possible expasion, but "I know what I know" when I experience it ... and believe I share this "knowledge" with many other locals (and those who've yet to experience it).
The Stakes Are
May 18, 2010

Riley and Chapman are going after Bear Creek.

Bear Creek is a world park...

Do you think we can get this in the national news?

National Boycott?

We will keep our jobs because there will be marginal use of our present facilities...but the almighty pocket book will hurt...

You steal my gold, man..we impact yours...

THC Whatever
May 18, 2010
And lets all remember Riley's private club hits the pow at 8am...not that Riley could possibly get to BC by 8 am....but the point remains.

Besides, I want Bear Creek as it is...dont need no lift up there!

This is about who
May 18, 2010
we put in charge of Bear Creek-during ski season and out.

Riley - he makes decisions for his company which are contrary to my interests. If I could see he was a benevolent soul I might have a different viewpoint.

Me, I am going to side with the guy making $13 per hour...cuz no one else is standing with him.

This is all about leadership. Not real estate sales.

End of story.
Welfare for rich
May 18, 2010
Let's see: Reilly talks of targeting the "high yield low volume" costumer and consequently Telluride has some of the highest lift prices in the country. Right now the public enjoys the right to access upper Bear Creek for free (except when Reilly has it closed for his "high value, low yield" customer). But when Reilly expands his area onto this public land, it will ONLY be available to his "high yield, low volume" customer for at least five months a year.

Am I missing something here? How is this not welfare for the wealthy? Seth, Say What, can you explain the nuance--because it sure sounds a lot like a beautiful chunk of public land is going to be closed to the public so a bunch of "high value, low yield" high dollar Telski clients can frolic there.

Say What?
May 18, 2010
This is not about Dave Riley. Bear Creek will be there, with lifts or without, long after he is gone. A red herring to debate his actions. The issue is not the current management or ownership of the ski company. It is the long-term best interests of the region.
Hi Say What
May 18, 2010
Please read Riley's two sided comments-"make a home here", "raise a family here" etc and then see his actions-

1. Uses zoning laws to outlaw the best priced meal in Heritage Plaza.

2. Cuts wages for the lifties, cuts bonuses, takes action against gondola operators trying to cut their pay from $13 to $8.06. Gets his own special abbreviated name!

3. Proposes a private concert venue on his land which would potentially cannabalize the ToT festivals and concert series.

On and On.

Watch what the man does and not what he says. His bucket theory is a marginal trickle down at best.

Yes, I agree with you on shared values. Show me where Riley and TSG has been inclusive and I will listen to your thoughts. I just havent seen it. Instead, we get Skier Days Are Up! The Rest of the Place is in the Toilet! We Need Hot Beds Although Not a Single Hotel runs at even40% occ for the year! Ski Ticket Pricing is None of Your Business But Lets Keep Expanding and Give Us Carte Blanche in Bear Creek! No MTB on Public Lands! Private Back Room Deals with the NFS!

Riley wants it both ways and he has failed in PR so many times. We need a community leader, unfortunately it seems Riley looks out for his bucket, makes sure he keeps getting all the corporate subsidies (Yes, Necessary! We need to spend 55 Million on an airport while behind the scenes we cut the gondola lifties 33%!, TMRAO, Marketing, Lodging Assistance! Hey My Ticket Prices Are Off Limits!)..

San Miguel County needs an inclusive leader to help shape our community values. Your man, he has no clothes on.

I wish he did but he doesnt.

The fight for Bear Creek will help ToT ....shape its values. A guy like Riley who points continuously towards his own wallet doesnt have a chance when he is matched up against Ivy league educated folks who passionately believe that preserving Bear Creek is a matter of conscience.

When this warms up we will see which arguments carry the day. Cheers.
Say What?
May 18, 2010
Face has a habit of asserting opinions as facts and then drawing erroneous conclusions from them.

Expanding into BC is not about marketing, as you declare it to be, except in the broadest sense. It is about improving the product. One lift back there would open up maybe 5,000 acres of above timberline terrain... possibly twice the existing ski area. It would be great skiing for experts and intermediates alike, and would open up vastly more off-piste, hike-to terrain.

There are many licensed, regulated, for-profit activities that take place on public land, and there's nothing improper about it per se. The proper management of these lands is the issue. Allowing new activity follows a lengthy Forest Service process which, ideally, weighs public costs against public benefits. Another of your false assertions is that expanded skiing in BC is all about the ski company's profits.

But there are, in fact, many other possible benefits to an expanded ski area. Anyone who draws a paycheck here or runs a business might benefit, for example. Anyone who would enjoy skiing back in BC, whether they are a local resident or not, but who can't ski there now because they don't have the skills for it, might benefit.

It is entirely fair to debate whether Telluride already has enough lift-served terrain and whether BC should be lift-served or remain backcountry. But it is NOT FAIR to try to win the argument by accusing those who may favor it of being selfish or greedy. They are no more self-interested than those who may oppose lifts in BC because they want to keep it to themselves.

The real issue here is balance in the management of public lands. It is not surprising that one person's sense of what's appropriate and good is not the same as another's. And therefore we should have a public process, if the ski company moves forward with an application, where the costs and benefits of an expanded ski area are lined out.

Your bottom line: "it's a private entity which is possibly attempting to garner (unique and rare) public lands for their own constrained marketing purposes" contains within it too many errors to enumerate because you start out from too many faulty premises. When did you stop beating your wife?

As for THC Whatever's "this is really about our values as a community."

Well, yes, but we are a diverse community with differing values... and public lands don't belong just to the locals. They belong to all Americans. There are many locals who value BC as backcountry and there are many who would love to ski back there if it is lift-served. While some folks say a lift trashes an area, others believe that Prospect Basin is no less beautiful today than it was before the lift went in. It is just more accessible.

And what about the community value of being able to afford to live here and raise families here? A sustainable tourist economy? I'm not arguing that we need BC to be developed to create a sustainable economy, but I do believe it is possibly part of the big picture. And to recognize the economic benefit of such development, if it is to occur, is not to be out of sync with community values.

The BC debate, if it blows up and takes place, should be about balance in the management of public lands and balance in the evolution of the Telluride community. It is skewed when FACE and THC simply assert righteousness. No to corporate profits! Yes to community values! This is way too simple, men. Way too simple. I can acknowledge the values of a Bear Creek that remains as it is. Can't you see that there are values in a BC that has lifts in it? There are conflicting values at play here. Not righteous values on one side and costs, extraction and greed on the other.

THC Whatever
May 18, 2010
This is really about our values as a community.

Bear Creek is not replaceable.

If you want some off piste high adventure skiing-Silverton or heli-ski. Many choices in front of you.

Mar the Bear Creek experience and it is not replaceable. Do we want a ski lift in this beautiful area?

It is a question of values. Really about our kids. And theirs.
FaceOnMars (nli)
May 18, 2010
The terrain which is directly accessible (without hiking) under Prospect lift is somewhat of a joke for the advanced intermediate and above. Short and sweet is about what it amounts to. Much better for advanced beginners and intermediates. There's not a lift to Palmyra Peak, so it's still a hike-to with controlled terrain proposition re: any terrain to the east of the top of the prospect lift. So, your point is essentially moot .... since there's basically the same deal as far as access to Bear Creak terrain via the top of Revlation (which currently has FAR SUPERIOR QUALITY of snow vs. if a lift were placed in BC).

So, it's really a matter of controlled access to existing terrain which is already easy to access, which is basically a marketing plan to cater to a particular niche which doesn't want to take off their skiis or have to "worry" about having backcountry knowledge & skill. That's what this all boils down to.

You can twist it all you want re: "the old days" of taking a bus back up from town to the village and how this will bring us into the new age.

The bottom line is that it's a private entity which is possibly attempting to garner (unique and rare) public lands for their own constrained marketing purposes.
Time to
May 17, 2010
appreciate the ski resort's future. Back in the 80's, Telluride was a very small ski area. People walked up what is now See Forever to the Gold Hill runs, which was the "back country". Everyone cried fowl when Telski proposed the Gold Hill / Prospect expansion. It took them many years to put in 12 and 14, which we all love now. Yes, we all love those lifts. I see this Bear Creek expansion as no different. Not at all. It will happen, but it will take years to accomplish. In the end, it will make the resort far far better and all the complainers will love it too. Horning and Riley are no rookies, and have achieved great things over their short tenure. I wish them well, and encourage them to stick to their goal of making Telluride ski resort one of the best in the world. They are well on their way. I applaude them.
listening, but not
May 17, 2010
hearing. I think the majority of this community is telling Riley resoundingly "no" to the industrialization of Bear Creek. We fought hard to protect it and I don't think many want a bunch of roads, noise and closures up there. And we all know that most of the exciting terrain will be closed permanently once intermediate tourists' lives will be at risk from skiers skiing avi terrain. Please Riley--you've done great on the area. Expand what you have the right to, but if moves are made to trash our cathedral, the gloves are off.