The Forest Service said that it will continue working with Solitude to provide Alpine skiing and riding opportunities within Big Cottonwood Canyon.
Solitude spokesmen expressed disappointment with the decision, as they had reduced their request for a permit expansion from 462 to 182 acres and proposed a 100-foot buffer to protect the watershed.
The decision marks the second time in the past year that a Forest Service decision has kept a winter resort from advancing an expansion proposal to a public process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The first occurred last November, when Crested Butte's proposed expansion onto Snodgrass Mountain was denied before it reached the NEPA stage. That decision is currently under appeal.
However, the Solitude decision cannot be appealed, the Forest Service said, as it did not meet the pre-NEPA screening criteria.