Vail installing 214 avalanche barriers above homes at The Canyons this summer

PARK CITY, Utah. — A Nevada company will soon begin construction and assembly of 214 avalanche barriers to be placed in four backcountry chutes that sit above The Colony neighborhood at The Canyons: Mini Mac, Main Mac, La Frontera and Nutty Putty. The barriers are made of steel and chain-link fencing and measure 16′ square. They’ll be installed vertically down each chute to mitigate avalanche impacts and prevent skiing and snowboarding.

Dyer Corp owner Russ Dyer said his company sought the $1 million contract in November of 2019, and was awarded the job in the spring of 2020.

This type of  barrier will also be installed at Alta this summer, he said; some private homes in Deer Valley already have them. The Canyons barriers will be assembled in the resort’s parking lot beginning in late May or early June, and following that will be installed.

Dyer said the barriers, which resemble open umbrellas laying on their sides, would already have been installed if not for a series of delays beginning with Covid. The barriers are manufactured in Italy, and Covid’s impact in that country caused the facility that makes them to run at 25% capacity for an extended time. The most recent delay came when the Suez canal was blocked; Dyer said his company would already be in Park City but the barriers were among the cargo loads stuck last month.

The Colony neighborhood is sometimes referred to by locals as “10-10-10” – meaning 10,000 square feet, $10 million price tag, and occupied 10 days out of the year. But the handle is a bit out of date: three homes currently for sale in The Colony range in listing price from $25 million to $38 million.

On social media, some decried the project.

“Sad to hear The Colony and Vail resorts seem to have snuck one through planning without public comment,” wrote former ski patroller Jake Hutchinson on Facebook. “It will permanently mar the bowls of MacDonald Draw and have severe wildlife impacts.  I removed a number of elk and deer carcasses from the fences below the top of Tombstone over the years.”

Dyer said studies have shown that installing the barriers with 3′ of space between each one allows for wildlife to pass through them and coexist safely.

Vail has not responded to a request for comment.

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