You won’t find a new ski lift when Magic Mountain Resort opens this winter.

The ski area south of Hansen proposes installing a triple-chair Poma lift east of Rock Creek Road — on the Pike Mountain side of the resort — following the same line as a now-defunct lift that once accessed gentle ski terrain but hasn’t been used since the 1980s.

“It’s all beginner terrain over there on that side,” co-owner Gary Miller said late last winter. The resort’s main ski lift and its challenging runs are west of Rock Creek Road.

Miller wants the new lift to remedy his resort’s one great failing: “We’re a beginner mountain without a true beginner run.”

But before proceeding, the resort needs approval from the Minidoka Ranger District of the Sawtooth National Forest. Back in March, District Ranger Loren Poppert hoped to make a final decision by early summer, and Miller hoped the new lift would open for Magic Mountain’s 2016-17 season.

It won’t happen.

Poppert said Friday he hasn’t been able to move forward on the lift-replacement proposal because the ranger district is still trying to determine whether the lift would affect cultural heritage resources.

At issue are several aging buildings: the ski lodge, an old toilet next to it and the powerhouse on the other side of Rock Creek Road. Magic Mountain’s ski runs, too, could contribute to eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places.

“A lot of those buildings are getting to the 50-year age or older, where potentially they could be eligible for the National Register,” Poppert said. “If they’re not eligible, then there definitely would not be any effect to heritage resources.”

But if the private contractor hired to assess that question determines the buildings are old enough and unique enough to be eligible, Magic Mountain and the Sawtooth National Forest may need to modify the ski lift proposal.

Poppert expects a draft report from the contractor in the next couple of weeks. He hopes now to finish the historical assessment by early 2017, submit a report to the State Historic Preservation Office in late winter or early spring, get its concurrence by early summer, then move forward on environmental assessment.

The bottom line: Minidoka Ranger District leaders are optimistic that Miller will be able to proceed with lift construction next summer if he elects to.

Miller last week said he was busy with his other ventures this summer anyway.

In last week’s Outdoors section, I wrote about the Southern Idaho Climbing Coalition’s ambitious project to rebolt all the sport climbing routes on The Prow, a crag at Dierkes Lake, and to do it 100 percent sustainably.

In this case, sustainable means completely pulling out the old bolt, then occupying the same hole with its replacement. It’s a tricky, delicate job, and the coalition will need a lot of volunteer labor from climbers.

Magic Valley Gear Exchange, at 364 Second Ave. E. in Twin Falls, will host the coalition’s second demonstration of rebolting techniques from 6 to 8 p.m. today.

Tonight is the hands-on sequel to last week’s demo, but don’t worry if you missed the first session. Tony Roberts, chairman of the coalition’s maintenance committee, welcomes new volunteers to join the effort now — or at the coalition’s first on-scene rebolting effort Sunday at The Prow.

For details on Sunday’s work session, watch for a post in the coalition’s Facebook group.

Another chance to lend a hand outdoors: Mountain bikers are inviting volunteers to help them clean some nasty tumbleweeds off the bike trails at Auger Falls Heritage Park on Saturday. They’ll meet in the Auger Falls parking lot at noon, a Southern Idaho Mountain Biking Association leader said; bring your own gloves, rakes and shovels.

To connect with them, search for “Southern Idaho Mountain Biking” on Facebook.

More into birds than bikes? Maybe you’d enjoy joining Prairie Falcon Audubon members for a workshop tonight and a field trip to Silver Creek Preserve on Saturday. Both are free; the birders just want to help you appreciate birds as much as they do.

Tonight’s one-hour workshop, dubbed “Field Notes: The Art of Observation,” starts at 7 p.m. in Shields 201 on the College of Southern Idaho campus. Artist Poo Wright-Pulliam will teach an easy sketching process that helps birders look at birds differently, see which field marks are most important, become familiar with birds’ anatomy and better understand their behavior.

Tonight’s class will compare photographs of species that look similar and draw simple songbird shapes, adding the important field marks. Drawing materials will be available, organizers said, but feel free to bring your own sketching books and pencils.

On Saturday, Wright-Pulliam will share her favorite place in the world by leading a 9 a.m.-to-noon field trip through the various habitats of The Nature Conservancy’s preserve on Silver Creek near Picabo.

Some of the Audubon chapter’s members will carpool from Twin Falls at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. To join them, search “Prairie Falcon Audubon Society” on Facebook to connect with the chapter. Bring snacks, lunch and warm clothes. If time permits, the birders may also explore nearby Hayspur Fish Hatchery.

Is this your winter to take up cross-country skiing? Or to find some skiing buddies?

A good way to connect with the Twin Falls-based High Desert Nordic Association is its first meeting of the season: 7 p.m. Wednesday at Idaho Joe’s restaurant, 598 Blue Lakes Blvd. N. The meeting will feature Dennis Kincaid sharing about the British Columbia skiing adventure he had last spring.

“He has always drawn a large crowd, even in November in past years, though we likely won’t be doing much skiing for a month yet,” High Desert Nordic board member Valdon Hancock said.

Anyone is welcome, but supper is no-host. Informal gathering starts at or before 6:30 p.m.

Virginia Hutchins is enterprise editor of the Times-News and; reach her at or 208-735-3242.


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