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History in the Making

Scenic powder-covered mountains in the winter at Beaver Creek

Before the first ski run was ever envisioned, Beaver Creek’s founders and proponents had already laid the groundwork for interminable fish and wildlife habitat protection, travel management, and water and air quality guidelines.

These guidelines, still in place today, resulted in the beginning of a continually improving environmental effort.

The Vision

Planners envisioned the most environmentally friendly ski area and village ever built, focusing on sustainability, and being good stewards to the lands. Creation of a village, which blends harmoniously with the environment, gives a sense of permanence and timelessness, and which above all projects a total human quality.

The Mountain Design

The primary mountain ecosystem – the integration of forest and meadow land – has been diligently preserved. A strong concern for the natural ecology of the mountain was carried through the entire design and development process. Resort planners respected, wherever possible natural landforms, existing vegetation, and diverse views. Mountain planners balanced ski-ability with a respect for visual impact.

Beaver Creek was one of the most environmentally scrutinized projects of its time:
Developing Beaver Creek into a ski area was and still is today, a partnership between the Forest Service and Vail Resorts. The approval process involved multiple agencies and groups, a considerable amount of conditions and approvals, and a lot of forward thinking from all those involved, it was a long process.

The entire process of developing Beaver Creek into a World-Class ski resort from the drawing board to an operating resort took a long time. The major factor, which led to this lengthy procedure, was the need for a full recognition and reconciliation of numerous environmental impacts.

Beaver Creek encompasses 2,775 acres of public lands. The United States Forest Service has the responsibility of balancing the demands of recreational facilities against the need to preserve wilderness. The Forest Service has stated that recreational development is a form of economic activity, which is one of the least destructive to the area’s long-term productivity.

The Forest Service’s jurisdiction over Beaver Creek ends where the privately owned lands begin. In the village of Beaver Creek, a whole new set of environmental rules come into play. Resort officials worked with county officials in formulating and implementing environmental guidelines.

The Village Design

Beaver Creek was designed to be a mountain village retreat respecting the historic architectural precedents of mountain buildings and resort communities in both Colorado and Europe, while being an environmentally sensitive project. The village has been designed to emphasize simple understated forms, complementing rather than competing with the natural landscape. Native stone, rough stucco, heavy timbers, and weathered wood were specified as the primary building materials to provide an overall unity, while allowing for individual expression, richness and vitality.

Statements from a Few of the Resort Planners:

“Beaver Creek’s village will look like it belongs there. The design will complement the landscape, not try to upstage it.” Jack Zehren, Project Architect

“There is so much interdependency of factors here—people, machines and the environment—that it’s a lot more complicated to build a quality ski mountain product than the average skier ever perceives. Environmentally sound, efficient to operate, and excellent to ski.” Roger Lessman, Director of Mountain Operations

“Ski-ability, environmental respect and operational effectiveness, what I consider to be the three major design criteria for the mountain, should be synthesized into one product.” “Snow retention, sun exposure, elevation, wind erosion minimization—all the environmental components—are as important to successful trail maintenance as they are to the skier’s skiing and visual experience.” Dean Kerkling, Trail Design Planning.

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