Lolo, Bitterroot National Forests Reject Latest Resort Plan

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SAM Magazine—Missoula, Mont., Sept. 25, 2013—The Bitterroot and Lolo national forests have, for the third time, rejected Tom Maclay’s proposal for a ski resort on the national forest above his family’s former ranch.

“Based on review of your proposal, we have concluded that your proposal is not consistent with all of the initial screening criteria, and therefore the proposal will not receive further evaluation and processing,” forest supervisors Deborah Austin and Julie King of the Lolo and Bitterroot forests said.

Maclay has been seeking to develop a winter resort near Lolo Peak for several years. The effort has bankrupted him; Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. Asset Holdings foreclosed on a loan to Maclay in 2012.

Maclay’s latest plan, introduced last May, attempted to work around both the loss of his family’s ranch and the previous objections of the two forest supervisors. The latest ruling means that effort was unsuccessful.

Among their reasons for rejecting the proposal, the forest supervisors cited plans for lifts and snowcat routes in areas where motorized access is not permitted, according to the forest management plans, and for recreational facilities in prohibited areas. The supervisors also said that Maclay’s plan requested development close to a research natural area (RNA), which is “inconsistent with preserving the RNA’s natural historic condition.”


Bad RNA precedent

I'd assumed that RNAs, like wildernesses, specifically did not affect management of adjacent Forest System lands. A break from that interpretation seems dangerous.