Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort (LVSSR) announces that the Humoldt-Toiyabe National Forest Service has accepted its Master Development Plan (MDP). The news comes after many years of examining the extensive multiphase project, which will take several years to complete. Included in the MDP are additions to the area including 50 trails and 10 lifts, increased snowmaking capability and parking, upgrades to equipment, and additional guest facilities that will be designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification standards.
“This is an important moment in history for Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort, as well as the local community,” explains Kevin Stickelman, LVSSR’s president and general manager. “The approval of our MDP means that in addition to offering the finest outdoor winter experience, LVSSR will be poised to provide year-round outdoor recreation and to serve as a premier special event venue. We will also be creating employment opportunities, as well as attracting tourism by providing a very unique Las Vegas experience.”
Terms of the MDP’s acceptance include the ongoing evaluation of individual projects for feasibility and impact in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). According to Stephanie Phillips, Humoldt-Toiyabe National Forest Service’s deputy forest supervisor, the two parties sharing a goal of protecting the environment was a critical factor in the MDP’s acceptance.
“Managing land for recreation and for species bio-diversity is challenging, but it’s not impossible,” says Phillips, who has been working closely with Stickelman and his team on negotiating the MDP.“The U.S. Forest Service supports users having positive outdoor experiences in the forest. LVSSR provides an opportunity for the public to do so in a safe and supervised environment,” she says.
Phillips explains that a shared concern has been the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, which was recently warranted for listing as an endangered species. “We had to look at the factors of the MDP that impact the blue butterfly and work with LVSSR to create circumstances that support the natural habitat necessary for it to flourish,” she says.
“Kevin Stickelman and his team have a serious commitment to making a positive impact on the area’s natural resources. For example, they have presented solid ideas to restore the area’s natural vegetation,” says Phillips. “We are confident that by working together, we can achieve our shared goals.” Along with environmental factors, additions to LVSSR will also be made in accordance with the area’s commitment to utilizing the most efficient alternative energy technology available, such as co-generation, geothermal, solar and wind power.
“Like our parent company Powdr Corp., environmental stewardship is our No. 1 priority, and that starts with how we approach our daily operations. So while using the most efficient lighting, cooling and water systems may add expenses to a project, for us compromise is not a consideration,” says Stickelman.
While the MDP will take place in phases over a 10- to 12-year period, Stickelman explains that some of the changes will be visible as early as the 2011-2012 season.
“By opening day, we will have added two yurts that will be home to an expanded youth ski school and beginner programs,” says Stickelman, noting that the area will also launch a more comprehensive youth racing program. “Outdoor seating at our base lodge will increase to 5,000 sq. ft., and we’ll offer a ski corral that provides secure ski and snowboard storage.”
Other visible changes will be the quantity of snow. Last summer, LVSSR increased the capacity of its snowmaking pond to 7.5 million gallons of water—more than four times the supply of the previous pond, which held only 1.6 million gallons. Due to last season’s heavy snowfall, the pond is already full. Stickelman explains, “Immediately, we’re tackling the installation of electricity on top of Chair 1, which will run five additional high-efficiency snowmaking guns. This means that on opening day we will be positioned to create top-to-bottom powder on every run. It’s exciting, and yet is only the start of the area’s transformation.”
The area’s promise is what inspired Powdr Corp.’s acquisition of LVSSR in 2003. “I clearly remember my first visit to LVSSR—its pristine setting was so captivating. It was like finding the proverbial hidden gem,” says John Cumming, CEO of Powdr Corp. “Our goal is to support and guide LVSSR as it transforms to reach its full potential as hub for year-round recreation and a community leader in environmental stewardship.”
In addition to projects in the MDP, another on-snow improvement is the addition of the popular NASTAR grassroots ski race program. An acronym for NAtional STAndard Race, NASTAR provides recreational racers with an opportunity to compete and to compare their scores to those of other racers. Its website records stats and ranks racers by factors including age and ability. More than 95,000 people participate in the program to win platinum, gold, silver and bronze medals in their age and gender groups.
Another improvement set to launch this coming season is the installation of a state-of-the-art software program. “As result, we’ll be able capture a concise picture of our guests and their habits. This will make us able to be much more effective in the design of our season pass and ski school programs,” says Stickelman. As a part of its technology upgrades, LVSSR will be launching a new website in the months ahead. The new site will allow guests to register online for contests and programs, make ski school reservations, and purchase or renew season pass products.
“Local and visiting skiers and boarders alike have waited patiently for this news,” says Stickelman. “The entire staff is thrilled to be moving forward and we greatly appreciate the patience of our community. We also extend our deepest thanks to Stephanie Phillips and the U.S. Forest Service for sharing in our vision for creating a better outdoor experience for our guests.”
About Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort
Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort (LVSSR) is located approximately one hour from downtown Las Vegas in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. Established in 1963, LVSSR offers guests access to 11 trails via three chair lifts and one surface lift. The area features LVSSR’s Ski & Snowboard School, Darkside Terrain Park, a freestyle terrain park for skiers and snowboarders, and off-slope amenities. Powdr Corp., a leading mountain resort company, operates LVSSR in partnership with the USDA Forest Service under a special-use permit. Visitors may access LVSSR from the city via the Ski Vegas Ski Bus, a shuttle service operated with the support of the USDA Forest Service and operated by Triple J Tours (CPCN #2032). For more information, please visit www.skilasvegas.com.