Ski Area’s Harvest Permit Denied

By Paige Browning

Tuesday a Spokane County hearing examiner withdrew Mount Spokane’s permit to harvest timber on an undeveloped section of the mountain. Mt. Spokane still plans to add a new chairlift, but expects more work ahead.

Hearing Examiner Mike Dempsey pulled the timber harvest permit issued in January to the county’s Department of Building and Planning. Dempsey contended that environmental reviews of the proposed ski runs don’t quantify impacts on the old growth forest or wildlife like moose and elk, nor do they explain how mitigation would reduce impacts.
Mount Spokane General Manager Brad McQuarrie says the permit was good until next December, and permitted winter harvesting only.  He says his group already planned to apply for a new permit, for a summer 2013 harvest, when the first one was in limbo.

[McQuarrie] “The County isn’t saying ‘no this isn’t permittable’.  This project is going to go through it’s just a matter of, okay we have to go back and do some more work.  That’s what the hearing examiner said we should do for that permit, but that permit wasn’t valid anymore anyways.  We’ll get through it, it’s just going to be more work, and more money, and more time.”

Concessionaire Mount Spokane 2000 plans to install a new chair and cut seven ski runs on the mountain’s western facing slope. McQuarrie says planning for the ski expansion has gone on for ten years.

Mike Petersen from the Lands Council is among the group trying to stop expansion of the western slope.

[Petersen] “And the fact that anyone would even propose to cut all this old growth on the largest state park, we thought was outrageous… Realistically… we actually think they might have a hard time coming up with any kind of plan that would mitigate and compensate for the loss of old growth, it’s simply irreplaceable.”

Petersen thinks they should focus on expanding different parts of the mountain, like near existing Chair 4.

McQuarrie says he’ll start working on a timber harvest permit for the western slope as soon as next week.  His group plans to visit Montana this summer to pick up a new chairlift, called the Red Chair.

Copyright 2013 Spokane Public Radio

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