Telluride is looking to get bigger.
A recent decision by the local U.S. Forest Service district will let Telluride conduct a scientific snow study analysis in Upper Bear Creek. Under the special use permit, the resort will be making its observations for a year.
Although Telluride has not submitted a formal expansion proposal to the Forest Service, this study is "is a preliminary step ... It's crucial ... and will provide us with very valuable avalanche and snow safety information," said Dave Riley, CEO of the resort.
The 1,500 acres that compose the Upper Bear Creek drainage area is of special interest to Telluride because it lies adjacent to the existing ski area permit boundary on the east side of Gold Hill.
With the recent installation of the Revelation Bowl lift, more skiers and snowboarders have access to the backcountry, greatly concerning ski area officials on the safety of those venturing into Bear Creek. The snow study will provide crucial information when and if the ski area decides to formally propose a boundary expansion into the area.
The Telluride Ski Patrol will conduct the snow studies each morning, and the Upper Bear Creek area will be closed to backcountry use until 10 a.m. daily to protect the snow study team.
The ski patrol also will post signs at the Ophir to Telluride trailhead, at the top of T-12, and at the Bear Creek trailhead explaining that it is conducting a snow study and may be using explosives.