The Ashland City Council voted unanimously Wednesday night to send a letter to the U.S. Forest Service clarifying the city's position in regards to a timber sale on Mount Ashland that would pave the way toward future expansion.




The motion approved by the City Council states that the city will eventually allow the Mt. Ashland Association to be listed as the purchaser of the timber sale in question. The letter will also state that the city is not ready to authorize the Forest Service to put Mt. Ashland Association's name on the contract until after the city has had an opportunity to talk to the association about City Council concerns.




City Administrator Martha Bennett said Thursday morning the council remains concerned that a restoration sum of $200,000 is inadequate to restore the mountain if the ski area fails. The council also wants a detailed ski area business plan and the formation of a team to oversee expansion work in order to safeguard the Ashland watershed.




The Mt. Ashland Association pulled out of mediation talks with the city in May.




Bennett said she is also sending a letter to the association stating the City Council wants an opportunity to negotiate again.




"The council is trying to meet the Mt. Ashland Association half-way," she said.




Ski Area General Manager Kim Clark said he could not comment about the City Council actions at this time.




In October 2006, the City Council sent the Forest Service a letter stating it wants the Forest Service to deal directly with the city on timber sale issues.




That took control over timber sale issues away from the Mt. Ashland Association.




Logging is currently blocked by a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals injunction imposed after environmental groups appealed a lower court's approval of the Mt. Ashland Ski Snowboard Resort expansion. A hearing to consider whether to lift the injunction is scheduled for July 11.




Just last week, the six-member council was evenly split about whether to send a letter allowing the Mt. Ashland Association to be listed as the purchaser of the timber sale. Mayor John Morrison, who casts tie-breaking votes, was absent. The council did not send a letter.Councilor Eric Navickas, who previously voted not to send the letter, said that his concern was not with eventually allowing the Mt. Ashland Association to be listed as the purchaser, but in giving up council authority over the entire timber contract.




Staff writer can be reached at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.