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First ever chairlift-accessible mountain bike park in western US needs to clear hurdles

Plans are rolling along for a first of its kind bike park near Conifer
Plans are rolling along for a first of its kind bike park near Conifer 02:18

Colorado's Front Range is getting closer to seeing its first ever chairlift-accessible mountain bike park -- while developers have a few hurdles, they hope to have limited operations up and running by this time next year.

"We were looking around the state and we felt that a dedicated bike park that offered chairlift access mountain biking was kind of a gap," said Phil Bouchard, cofounder of the Shadow Mountain Bike Park Project.

Bouchard, along with his business partner and best friend Jason Evans, has been working on the concept for just over two years. Not only would it be the first of its kind in the front range, but it would also be the first independent dedicated lift access bike park in the western United States.

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The Shadow Mountain Bike Park Project wants to build the first chairlift-accessible bike park in Conifer, near Aspen. CBS

The property off Shadow Mountain Drive is ideal, they say. They can lease the land from state trust land for minimal cost, and the state land board will then turn a portion of the revenue to schools. State Trust Lands include about three million acres of state-owned lands specifically to support Colorado Public Schools.

The State Land Board told CBS4 that while other developments could be put in place of the proposed bike park, around 90 percent of their leases deal with agriculture and the bike park would likely generate more revenue than any other proposal.

The catch? It's not up to the State Land Board; it's not a regulatory agency. The decision is with Jefferson County,

"Ultimately what we would need to do to actually build the park, whether that's a roadway improvement or tree clearing, that's all dictated by the county. Whatever the county says we need to do, we will do," said Bouchard.

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A developer's rendering shows the layout of the proposed Shadow Mountain Bike Park. Shadow Mountain Bike Park

Currently, the site plan calls for 230 acres of rideable terrain with 16 miles of trails, a single lift, a lodge and parking with a cap at 300 vehicles.

There are several residents in favor of the proposal who would like to see more of these types of recreational opportunities for the area.

"I know that this is a private enterprise, it's not up for a vote but I've been super frustrated about our voters in this community that have voted down things like rec centers," said Tammy Deranleau.

Deranleau has lived on Shadow Mountain for 23 years and is the head coach of the mountain bike team at Conifer High School. She's aware the park will create more traffic but believes developers won't get approved without a workable solution.

"I truly think that the proprietors are gonna do their due diligence. They've gotta jump through all the hoops with the county and I also think as a part of that, they'll have to do some fire mitigation."

Though many people are for it, a large opposition has formed. A group called, Stop the Bike Park, has hundreds of members, and organizers believe there are other, better locations for the proposal.    

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CBS

"The idea is tremendous. It's just the location," said John Lewis, Conifer resident of Stop the Bike Park. "Just imagine what 300 more people a day, that don't live in the area, are going to do to the fire danger."

Following a community meeting that lasted nearly four hours, Bouchard said he and Lewis received great feedback, especially when it comes to how to be good community partners.

They're fine-tuning their proposal which they hope to submit to the county for approval by the end of September.

For more information on the proposed bike park, click here: https://shadowmountainbikepark.com

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