The U.S. Forest Service has agreed to consider Tom Maclay’s latest proposal to build a destination ski resort on Lolo Peak.
Maclay presented his proposal in May to create a downhill and cross-country ski and mountain bike development located entirely on the Bitterroot and Lolo national forests.
The Forest Service will have 60 days to review the proposal to determine if it meets the agency’s criteria to formally start the application process and initiate a full environmental analysis.
The agency has rejected two earlier proposals from Maclay to develop a downhill ski development on 11,000 acres of national forest lands that were adjacent to his family’s ranch southwest of Lolo.
The agency rejected the two earlier proposals because they didn’t meet the minimum requirements for a special use permit application.
Maclay’s initial plans called for using the 3,000-acre family ranch as a base area for the development.
Last February, Maclay lost the ranch and his home to Met Life Agricultural Investments as a result of a foreclosure signed in 2009.
The latest proposal was received on May 24 from a limited liability company called Special Use Permit for Public Resource Benefits, or SUPPRB. Maclay is the only principal listed under the company’s corporation filing with the state of Montana.
Maclay opposed the public release of his latest proposal following a Freedom of Information Act request from the Ravalli Republic and others in May.
On Monday, the Forest Service’s Northern Region FOIA specialist, Angie Monaco, said the agency has decided to release the full proposal to those who requested it following a review.
Under federal law, Maclay will have until July 10 to decide if he’ll file a lawsuit to keep the proposal secret.
Maclay didn’t respond to requests for an interview Tuesday.
In June, Maclay wrote in an email that “given my busy schedule and the delegation of duties,” Tim Newhart would be the contact person for the Bitterroot Resort. Newhart also didn’t respond to a phone call Tuesday.
In the past, Maclay’s proposals have faced a major roadblock because current forest plans for the Bitterroot and Lolo national forests do not allow for a downhill ski area development on Lolo Peak and the surrounding area.