Mixed Opinions About the Pandora Expansion


Shelby Grueter

City council member and Pandora’s expansion opposer John Doyle pointing out the Northstar nature preserve in his studio in aspen

The Pandora Expansion Project will be adding approximately 153 acres of new ski terrain to Aspen mountain, along with new lift to services to the expanded terrain. The potential effects of Pandora on local wildlife dig deeper than they appear.

On a global scale, terrain expansion projects such as Pandora have caused adverse effects. According to the world economic forum, If you were to weigh all the land mammals globally today, only 4% are wild; the rest are livestock and humans. In the last century humans have also depleted life in the oceans – 90% of the large fish including sharks, tuna, and cod are gone.

Local communities thrive having an abundant wildlife population such as deer, elk, bears, coyotes and more. Many locals believe that for the sake of the wildlife, Pandora’s may not be such a good idea.

John Doyle, a local artist and Aspen city council member, owns a cabin on the back of Aspen Mountain and has felt connected to the construction process.

“The natural habitat will be affected during the construction period of putting the lift in” Doyle began, “wildlife will definitely be affected, both during the construction of the lift and after the construction is complete because there will be more explosives used to control avalanches than currently used in the area by Walsh’s and Christies,” Doyle said.

Rana Dershowitz, Chief Operating Officer of Aspen Skiing Company, has taken an active role in the construction of Pandora’s and has worked hard to make it happen.

“I am a firm believer that [Pandora’s] is a valuable addition to our community” Dershowitz elaborated, “we have gone through a very detailed review with the US Forest Service, it will help the forest health for us to thin out the trees because it will help clear deadfall and reduce fire risk,” Dershowitz finished.

As one of Pandora’s many opposers, Doyle believes the environment is at stake.

“The environmental consequences are more of what is affecting our entire planet.” Doyle began, “deforestation will occur and development means pouring more concrete. Building more concrete means more tourists in town, which will mean more traffic and strain on all of our natural resources. How many more people will fit in our small valley?,” Doyle said.