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Expansion plans for SkyPark at Santa’s Village get green light

By in Press Enterprise on May 19, 2017

By Jim Steinberg

Santa may become a year-round fixture in San Bernardino County. Well, at least his village.

An expansion of SkyPark at Santa’s Village near Lake Arrowhead has been given the green light by San Bernardino County planners. Additions including mountain biking and other activities could help it become an all-season tourist attraction.

“We are a step further along,” Bill Johnson, SkyPark general manger, said after the Planning Commission’s unanimous vote last week.

That meeting drew more than 20 speakers, many asking for project approval so that the fragile San Bernardino Mountain business community could gain a stable, all-year job generator.

Tim Odening, a counselor at Lincoln Elementary School, said SkyPark’s programs in careers and outdoor education will have a major impact across the region, especially in the wake of program funding cuts. Hundreds of students at Lincoln Elementary School have already benefited from the affordable education programs offered at SkyPark, Odening told the county planning commissioners.

They also heard from several environmentalists.

Tim Krantz, a professor of environmental studies, told the commissioners about his concerns about mountain biking activities in the “multi-layered, closed-canopy mixed conifer forest” in the northern part of the park, which is prime habitat for the San Bernardino flying squirrel, California spotted owl and Southern rubber boa.

The next step for SkyPark at Santa’s Village will be the county’s completion of the environmental impact report for the board of supervisors’ to consider at a meeting in about eight weeks, said Terri Rahhal, planning director.

Written concerns about the project from the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society were “inadverently” omitted from the environmental impact report before commissioners Thursday, said Sonya Hooker, director of environmental services for Ruth Villalobos & Associates in Ontario, which is serving as an environmental consultant for the county. Commissioners did have, separately, a written copy of what local Audubon officials submitted.

Hooker said those […]    

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