Council Decision Regarding Administrative Appeal Process
Concerning the US Forest Service Record of Decision (ROD)
and Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Mt. Ashland Ski Area Expansion
|Meeting Date:||October 19, 2004||00||Primary Staff Contact:||Paula Brown, 552-2411, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Department:||Public Works||Secondary Staff Contact:||Mike Franell, 552-2090, email@example.com|
|Contributing Departments:||Legal, Finance, Fire|
|This item is presented to the City Council for a decision on whether or not to file an administrative appeal to the US Forest Service (FS) decision on the Mt. Ashland Ski Area Expansion. It will also provide a framework for the next steps the City could take should council decide not to appeal the FS decision. This item builds on the information discussed at the study session on October 6, 2004 (attached).|
|The Mount Ashland Ski Area (MASA) is a winter recreation area on Mt.
Ashland in Federal FS lands, within the purview of the Rogue River-Siskiyou
National Forest (RR-SNF). The ski area was constructed in 1963. The City
holds a Special Use Permit for the ski area and leases the operation of the
ski area to Mt Ashland Association (MAA).
The City has had a long-standing relationship with the FS, dating back to the original 1929 agreement. The City's primary interest is that Mt. Ashland serves as the municipal watershed for the City's primary source of quality drinking water. Protection of the watershed is paramount for both the City and the Forest Service. The City has commented on several different processes regarding the ski area since the 1991 master plan decision to allow expansion within the ski area's special use permit sector.
On September 13, 2004, the FS published the Record of Decision (ROD) for the most recent request for the Mt. Ashland Ski Area Expansion. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was issued concurrent with the ROD and documents the details of each of the alternatives considered for the expansion. In accordance with federal regulations, the FEIS is consistent with the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and Congress' Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations.
The City is not the decision maker for the Mt. Ashland Ski Expansion. As the federal lands manager, the Forest Service has the responsibility and obligation to analyze the proposed expansion to determine the appropriateness of authorizing the action. The City may accept the FS decision and continue to work with the RR-SNF and Mt Ashland Association (MAA) throughout the implementation stages, or the City may file an administrative appeal of the FS decision.
The FS decision is subject to administrative appeal in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations (36CFR Part 251 Subpart C). The City has 45 days, or until November 8, 2004, to file such appeal. If the City decides to appeal, the City's appeal must identify specific change(s) in the decision or specifics of the objection and the rational for those changes; identify any portion(s) of the decision with which the City disagrees and an explanation for the disagreement; and the appeal should state how the FS decision fails to consider substantive comments that were previously provided and, if applicable, how the City believes that the decision violates law, regulation or policy.
|Related City Policies:|
|City of Ashland / Forest Service MOU (1929 to current)
City of Ashland / Forest Service Special Use Permit
City of Ashland / MAA Agreement
City of Ashland Adoption of Valdez Principles
City of Ashland 2004-2005 Budget (and future budget implications)
City of Ashland Water Treatment Plant Operations Plan and Water Supply Analysis
|The City may accept the FS decision and continue to work with the RR-SNF and MAA throughout the implementation stages, or the City may file an administrative appeal of the FS decision. If the Council chooses to move forward with the FS decision, it would be appropriate to develop a supplemental agreement or specific memorandum of understanding between the City and MAA to ensure enforcement of FS expectations. This is discussed in more detail in staff recommendations.|
|It is staff's opinion, based on the analysis presented in the FEIS and
ROD, that the ski area expansion shows limited or no measurable impact to
the watershed or to water quality if the construction activities are completed
as anticipated in the documents. Construction includes appropriate mitigation
measures, continual monitoring and corrective actions taken during and after
construction. The FS' proposed watershed restoration projects are sound and
will provide significant long-term environmental benefits to conditions at
the ski area.
It is staff's recommendation to move forward with the FS decision and ensure
that the City provides the best counsel to both the FS and MAA through the
implementation process to continue to protect water quality and water quantity.
To continue to develop trust and a strong collaborative partnership between
the FS, City and MAA, staff recommends developing a supplemental agreement
or specific memorandum of understanding between the City and MAA to ensure
enforcement of FS expectations for the following actions:
|Staff suggests the following motions for Council consideration:
1. That Council not appeal the FS decision and continue to support staff efforts and recommendations through the implementation process.
2. That Council opposes the Forest Service decision and has a consultant prepare a formal administrative appeal.