Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Pikes Peak Summit House environmental study completed

Posted By on Tue, Mar 6, 2018 at 10:44 AM

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In a 409-page report that delves into environmental issues ranging from air quality to soils, the U.S. Forest Service concludes there will be no significant impact to the environment from building a new Summit House atop Pikes Peak.

The draft environmental assessment concluded, "After reviewing the EA, the Forest Service has determined the Proposed Action will not, individually or cumulatively, significantly affect the quality of the human, biological, or physical environment."

The Forest Service further determined, based on the "context and intensity" of the project, that a more thorough and lengthy Environmental Impact Statement isn't required.

Besides a new $50-million Summit House, the project includes two other components. Here's a description from the EA:
The city, PPAM [PIkes Peak America's Mountain], U.S. Army, and CSU [Colorado Springs Utilities] have requested approval to design and construct three facilities on two building sites on the summit of Pikes Peak as accepted by the U.S. Forest Service in a letter dated April 16, 2014.

Connected to the proposal and integral to the proposed project is decommissioning and removing the existing facilities, building new facilities designed specifically for the Pikes Peak summit use objectives and environment, restoring disturbed sites to native tundra, protecting heritage resources, and enhancing visitor experiences above the 17 14,000-foot contour.

The proposed action is to redesign and construct a new Summit Complex, consisting of PPAM’s Summit Visitors Center on one site and to consolidate the City’s Plant Building, CSU’s Communications Facility, and the U.S. Army’s High-Altitude Research Laboratory (HARL) on the second site. Although separate facilities, the City’s Plant, CSU’s communications tower, and U.S. Army’s HARL, will be designed to givethe appearance of one facility.

The EA discusses the use of shuttles during construction and after.

A public comment period is open until April 16, but the Forest Service says you can't comment unless you've already submitted a written comment earlier in the process. "Objections will only be accepted from those who have previously submitted specific written comments during a designated opportunity for public comment," the Forest Service says in an email. "Issues raised in objections must be based on previously submitted specific written comments regarding the proposed project or activity and attributed to the objector, unless the issue is based on new information that arose after the opportunities to comment."

If you qualify to provide an "objection," as termed by the Forest Service, they should be sent to:
USDA Forest Service
Region 2 Rocky Mountain Region
Attn.: Objection Reviewing Officer
1617 Cole Boulevard, Building 17
Lakewood, CO 80401

Or faxed to (303) 275-5134.

Send electronic objections to r02admin_review@fs.fed.us and enter Pikes Peak Summit Complex in the subject line.

Here's a little history contained in the Forest Service's report:
1820- First recorded ascent by Dr. Edwin James
1873- First structure built atop Pikes Peak
1889- Completion of the Pikes Peak Carriage Toll Road
1891- The Cog railway completed
1963- Current Summit House built
1969- U.S. Army research building constructed
1970s- CSU Communication Facility built
1992- Pikes Peak Highway Master Plan completed- recommend implementing erosion and sediment control plan and replacement of the Summit House
2002- City of Colorado Springs implements the Drainage, Erosion and Sediment Control Plan
2011- Pikes Peak Toll Road is completely paved.
April 16, 2014 Decision to prepare an EA

Here's the Environmental Assessment:

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