The Montana Snowbowl ski area finally has a green light from the Lolo National Forest to double its winter terrain.
“It will change the ski area quite a bit,” Snowbowl owner Brad Morris said Wednesday. “We plan to add a whole bunch of different, lower and intermediate terrain.”
Lolo forest officials agreed to a plan expanding from the current 1,138 acres to 2,243 acres. Ski lifts would go from four to eight, along with necessary infrastructure such as power and water lines, wastewater drains, and a new lodge and maintenance building on federal land.
The record of decision also allows for a new snow-making water reservoir.
Ski runs would increase from 52 to 80. That allows an increase in daily skier capacity from 1,500 to 3,066 people.
Snowbowl has had a special use permit to operate on public land since 1961. Its owners presented their initial expansion plan in 2004.
“We’re happy to get it done and anxious to get going on it,” Morris said of the lengthy process.
Survey work for the first new lift should begin this summer, with lift installation possibly next summer. The lift would open the ski area’s western side along the top of TV Mountain from an existing mid-mountain lift.
A second lift would extend from the base area to TV Mountain, while a third would serve the area’s north side between the existing LaValle lift to TV Mountain.
Morris said timing would depend on several factors, including skier demand, financing and weather. Snowbowl will have to work with the Lolo National Forest to sell timber from the future ski runs and lift corridors, as well as mitigate any landscape changes from the construction.
Find the complete Snowbowl record of decision at fs.usda.gov/lolo in the “NEPA Projects” section.