More skiers and snowboarders on the mountain mean more people hanging out in the lodge.

That’s the equation that computes to expansion of the Monarch Mountain base lodge, a project recently announced by mountain ownership that awaits U.S. Forest Service review.

Since taking over in 2002, a consortium of Colorado investors, Salida businessmen and Monarch employees have pushed annual skier-day visits up about 25 percent – from 140,000 to nearly 185,000. As a result, revenues have increased and so have opportunities for upgrades.

The first one up is the proposal to add some 16,000 square feet to the existing 23,000 square-foot base lodge. If approved by Forest Service officials after a public review period, the plan would add 808 seats, including some 500 more places to eat in the cafeteria and 200 spots for sack-lunch consumers – a popular pastime at the old-school, local-flavor mountain. In addition, the lodge’s bar, the Sidewinder Saloon, will get some 100 more seats, and all the new locales will be accessible from an interior stairway that will be ADA compliant.

The ownership also hopes to begin expanding its terrain and lifts in the next five years so as to bring skier-day visits up to around 200,000, according to mountain officials.

The Salida Ranger District is taking written commons on the plan at its office, 325 W. Rainbow Ranch Blvd., Salida, Colo. 81201. Questions should be directed to Mike Picard, Environmental Coordinater, at 719-530-3959.

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