By Charles Pekow –
The Lee Canyon Ski Resort may add a mountain bike component. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is developing a plan to allow it at the resort in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in Nevada. The proposed forest plan amendment would have to not alter the area in a way to disturb the habitat for the the Mount Charleston Blue Butterfly, which was listed as an endangered species three years ago.
So USFS is taking public comments on its Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Lee Canyon Ski Area Master Development Plan and a proposed forest plan amendment. USFS announced the proposed plan last year.
Currently, the Lee Canyon resort offers winter sports and summer activities such as hiking and camping but no dedicated bike trails. The resort lies at the end of Hwy. 156 in Lee Canyon, Clark County. USFS has proposed adding mountain biking along with other activities such as ziplining and more hiking. USFS frequently allows mountain bike trail development in ski areas. The proposal calls for 13 miles of cross country trails of varying difficulty (in some parts shared with hikers) and one mile-long downhill trail with jumps, bridges, seesaws, etc.
USFS tried to devise a trail system that would not go through the butterfly habitat, but some of the former caterpillars have been seen in the area in the past. USFS' scoping report of last year stated that the plan was designed to avoid disturbing plans the endangered butterfly likes and it will try to improve conditions in the areas the plants grow. The report also noted that a plan will have to deal with the possible erosion problems the downhill trail could cause.
The draft up for review notes the possibility of collisions between hikers and bikers where trails intersect and notes that adding recreational activities would change the natural feel of the area.