The Mt. Ashland Ski Area does not appear to be suffering negative effects from a boycott organized by expansion opponents.

The Mt. Ashland Ski Area does not appear to be suffering negative effects from a boycott organized by expansion opponents.

Sales of season passes this fall were double what the ski area had projected, General Manager Kim Clark said this week.

Last year, the ski area sold $55,000 worth of season passes during its fall sale. This year it sold $102,000 worth, outpacing a projection of $51,000 in fall season pass sales, Clark said.

"We have not seen any significant effect from the boycott. We're seeing a larger level of support," Clark said.

An adult season pass during the fall sale cost $349. It now costs $469.

Clark said the ski area is continuing to sell season passes and is also seeing good sales on gift cards.

Lisa Beam, past treasurer for the Mt. Ashland Association board and its new vice president, said she did not want to comment on the boycott's apparent lack of impact on season pass sales.

She said this fall's strong figures could be a sign that the economy is rebounding enough for people to invest in season passes.

Expansion opponent and former Ashland City Councilor Eric Navickas said opponents were forced to organize the boycott because the Mt. Ashland Association has refused to compromise and consider less environmentally destructive expansion options.

"We are going to continue the boycott of Mt. Ashland," he said.

Ski area officials said the expansion has been planned in an environmentally sensitive way.

The expansion remains blocked by an injunction, but U.S. Forest Service officials hope to go to court in November or December to ask a judge to lift it.

Meanwhile, the Mt. Ashland Association reported that operating revenues for its fiscal year that ended on June 30 were up 10.9 percent from last year, for a total of $2.2 million. Operating expenses increased by 12 percent, or $239,961.

The nonprofit ski area ended the year with positive earnings of $89,919, association officials said.

Donations to the ski area were down 10.9 percent, or $20,147.

Weather forecasters are predicting a repeat of last winter's La Niña weather pattern, which brought heavy snow to the ski area.

Last season, the ski area opened on Dec. 3 and operated through April 17.

Skiers and snowboarders visited the mountain 78,708 times, a 7.8 percent increase over the previous winter, Clark said.

The ski area stayed open extra days because of the good snowfall, but also lost $90,000 and 4,000 projected visitors during March because of spring-break blizzards, he said.

For the coming winter, workers trimmed brush on runs down to one foot tall or shorter to allow for an earlier season opening with less snow on the mountain, Clark said.

Ski rental gear has been replaced and a new ticket scanning system will help prevent fraud, he said.

The ski area is replacing the drive system and electric motor of the Ariel chairlift at a cost of $62,000, and a $7,200 grant will help offset that cost, Clark said.

That project will yield $3,000 in electricity bill savings each year and the chairlift will be able to operate better during cold, windy weather, he said.

The ski area made $190,051 worth of contributions to youth and educational programs and other causes during the past fiscal year, Beam said.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.