Mt. Ashland Ski Area expansion

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Mount Ashland	Ski Area
A plan to expand the Mt. Ashland Ski Area on land managed by the U.S. Forest Service was approved by the agency in 1991, but remains in limbo.

The Expansion

The authorized expansion plan includes the construction of two chairlifts, two surface lifts and about 71 acres of associated new ski run terrain primarily in the Middle Fork area, requiring 68 acres of tree removal. In addition, 4 acres would be cleared for lift corridors, heli-spot and staging areas. Other construction would be a 4-acre tubing facility in the southern portion of the Special Use Permit area, and three guest services buildings and a yurt. More night lighting, maintenance access road segments, power, water lines, water storage tank, sewer lines, snow fence and 220 parking spaces would be added. Watershed restoration projects include structural storm water control and the placement of large and small woody material.

Recent Stories


1929: The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the city of Ashland sign a cooperative agreement to conserve and protect the city’s water supply. (Subsequent agreements are updated in 1996 and 1999.)

1963: The Mt. Ashland Corp. raises money to clear trees, grade terrain, build roads and develop a ski area primarily within the watershed. The area includes a ski lodge, the Ariel chairlift, two T-bar lifts and a rope tow on the north face of the mountain. A poma lift is installed later.

1964: Mt. Ashland Ski Area opens to the public.

1972: A U.S. Forest Service environmental analysis approves expansion north and west of the current ski area down to an elevation of about 5,300 feet.

1974: After three consecutive years of extreme winter conditions and then drought, the Mt. Ashland Corp. folds. The county considers financial assistance but declines. Jackson Winter Park retains ownership.

1977: Dick Hicks buys the ski area and incorporates it as Ski Ashland Inc.

1978: The Windsor chairlift is installed.

1983: The ski area is sold to Harbor Properties of Seattle, which installs on-slope night lighting, a vehicle shop and the Sonnet and Comer chairlifts in the mid-1980s.

1991: The Forest Service approves new trails and chairlifts on the northwest and northeast sides of the mountain after cross-country skiers and others oppose building a chairlift on the south side.

1992: Skiers and snowboarders raise more than $1 million to buy the ski area. The city takes over the permit issued by the Forest Service and a new nonprofit organization, the Mt. Ashland Association, takes over management and signs a lease for $1 a year, which expires in 2017. The permit area boundary is expanded to 960 acres.

1998: MAA announces plans for a $3.7 million expansion to increase the size of the ski area north and west. Environmental activists oppose expanding into undeveloped forestland and its potential impact to water quality, rare plants and wetlands. MAA revises a ski run crossing a wetland and other plans.

1999: A $1 million wastewater treatment facility is installed.

2000: The Forest Service releases a draft environmental impact statement for the expansion with three alternatives. Extraordinary public response causes the agency to conduct additional analyses.

2002: MAA submits a revised proposal to the Forest Service.

2003: The Forest Service’s second draft EIS draws more public comment and prompts the agency to develop six alternatives, including no action.

2004: The 1,000-page, final EIS is released and the Forest Service selects a modified version of Alternative 2. The decision results in 28 appeals, all denied by the regional forester.

2005: Three environmental groups and City Councilor Eric Navickas sue the Forest Service, claiming the EIS fails to comply with the environmental and forest management acts. Navickas later drops out of the lawsuit.

2006: Environmental groups and the ski area make oral arguments in federal court and U.S. District Judge Owen Panner rejects the environmental groups' claims. The ski area begins plans to expand.

2007: Mediation efforts between the city and MAA over the expansion end without resolution and MAA sues the city. Environmental groups appeal Panner’s decision, arguing the Forest Service failed to consider impacts on the Pacific fisher, wetlands and streams. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocks the expansion until shortcomings in the Forest Service’s environmental plan are corrected.

2011: The Forest Service releases a final supplemental EIS and supplemental record of decision and reaffirms the 2004 decision for a ski area expansion. Mt. Ashland resort opponents call for a boycott. The city gives up the ski area permit. A federal court injunction prevents any expansion work.

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