STEVENS PASS — A pair of appeals may delay the construction of a mountain bike park and trail system at Stevens Pass Ski Area for months — if not longer.
After the U.S. Forest Service approved plans to build the park in mid-April, the appeals filed on the May 27 — the 45th and final day of the allotted time frame — have thrown the project for a loop.
The Sierra Club and Conservation Northwest jointly filed one appeal, and the Tulalip Tribes filed one separately.
As a result of the appeals, the Forest Service will begin an internal review, and will issue a ruling on whether to uphold or deny them by the third week of June.
Sean Wetterberg, winter sports and special uses specialist for the Forest Service in Everett, said that he wasn’t surprised by the appeals.
“These appellants indicated throughout the whole process that they would appeal,” Wetterberg said.
A press release on Conservation Northwest’s website charges that current plans for development at Stevens Pass “do not address effects to wildlife reliant on the area, such as wolverine.”
If their appeals are denied by the Forest Service review, the Sierra Club, Conservation Northwest and the Tulalip Tribes could choose to take their case to court, which would drag the process out into next year.
“The short-term effect of these appeals is that any construction has to be stopped, and can’t continue this summer,” Wetterberg said. “Long term, it might not happen for a long time, or it might never happen.”
Officials at Stevens Pass could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
The facility is slated to be the first chairlift-accessed mountain bike park in the state. The closest one now is at Whistler in British Columbia.
Wenatchee mountain biker Matt Rose, a board member of the Evergreen Mountain Alliance, said the riding community was disappointed by the setback in the park’s construction.
“It’s just going to delay the process, and cost Stevens Pass and the Forest Service a lot more money to go through the process,” Rose said. “It seems to be typical operating procedure for these groups. I have a background in environmental science, and I read all the reports and studies. I thought it was a well-written plan, and it’s puzzling to me what the objections are. But for bikers, it’s absolute and total disappointment.”