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.

Reporter Perry Backus can be reached at 363-3300 or at pbackus@ravallirepublic.com.

More from missoulian.com

(14) comments

Denise Moore
Denise Moore

Yes! Go for it, Maclay. I applaud your vision and your tenacity.

Michael Jordan

I am all in favor of an additional ski resort in a growing region of Western Montana. I would like to see a 20 year forest plan provided, an environmental assessment study compiled and an economic plan with hopes that there is limited kickback of of financial back the county/community to finance it in case this resort does not pan out.

Re-Made in Montana

I'm not in favor of an "agenda" either way but one thing is clear. Mr. Maclay is a throwback to another time where the rich 1. think they are above the rule of law and 2. that they can continue to operate outside the scope of public review. The age of information will continue to erode the impact of back room deals and shady accounting. If it's a net benefit to our society then what is the harm in public discourse. Why all the secrecy Tom?

Rez Kid

The extreme enviros would rather see an area burned to ashes than to be put to any other use at all. The forest service used to be ran by REAL forest managers, now they are ran mostly by people with an agenda - an agenda that would rather see the forests burn than to be responsibly logged or thinned. An agenda hammered into them by the extreme enviro whackos and federal judges who fight every thing, but when millions of acres burn you don't hear a peep out of their hipocritic lips

Denise Moore
Denise Moore

Agreed. Well said.

Roger
Roger

The Forest Service had an agenda in the past, all right - a road-building, timber cutting agenda.

MiddleFinger
MiddleFinger

This so-called resort plan is nothing but the walking dead. It will go nowhere either way.

Build it and nobody will come. I can already imagine all the partial development, dirt fields, decaying infrastructure, and colossal waste of money, resources, and pristine land. Prices will bottom out, investors will squirm and panic making it a great site for a prison or sex offender group home, or anything else that can only gain traction only where people are desperate.

This pipe dream is nothing but a pipe bomb. Forget it and move on. There is enough stupidity and bad ideas already in play around here so don't add yet another destructive greed-filled lie to the mix.

mbond55

Of course the FS will entertain this. They have nothing better to work on!! its called job security... just keep acting busy. What a joke.

LoloResident

The FS accepted the proposal for review because it fits the existing Forest Service Plan. I think I can quote the FS regional manager as stating the Forest Sevice Plan is the "Contract with the people which designates how the Forest will be managed". Seems pretty clear that if the proposal fits the plan, it should be considered and reviewed fairly.

Roger
Roger

According to the story, 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.

walter12

Absolutely amazing, he will probably get what he wants on this third attempt. What is wrong with this Forest Service to even entertain this guy again?

Roger
Roger

How many times can MaClay submit a proposal before the "no" is final? Why did the FS even agree to consider his latest proposal?

BWO

No.

Denise Moore
Denise Moore

Yes.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.