DENVER (AP) — Breckenridge Ski Resort is getting bigger.

The U.S. Forest Service on Tuesday announced that it has approved the resort's controversial Peak 6 Project, which would add nearly 550 acres of skiable terrain, two lifts, a restroom facility and a warming hut.

Vail Resorts Inc., which operates the ski area, said it expects to have the new terrain ready for the 2013-2014 ski season.

The Breckenridge ski area is among the most crowded in the state and argued that it needed the extra room to accommodate skiers. The added terrain would allow it to increase its capacity from 14,920 visitors to 16,170.

Environmentalists complained that cutting down trees to make more ski runs could hurt Canada lynx and other endangered animals. Some residents objected because they feared overcrowding in town.

Forest supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said he thinks the decision allows for both a better experience for skiers and protection of the forest.

The Summit Daily News reported ( ) Peak 6 is near what is considered degraded habitat for the Canada lynx.

"There is no question that there are impacts," Fitzwilliams said. "The region surrounding Peak 6 does not meet federal standards for lynx habitat, regardless of the expansion we really couldn't meet the standard."

The decision has been in the works for five years and can be appealed within the next 45 days.

Breckenridge last expanded in 2002, when it added Peak 7.



Forest Service decision: