The Mt. Ashland Ski Area might not have big snow yet this year, but it has big supporters, as major donors Sid and Karen DeBoer have expanded to $125,000 their matching donation offer for the area's lodge improvements.
The DeBoers announced earlier this month they would match all donations made in December up to $100,000. With those funds now in hand, the couple has added $25,000 to the matching offer for all lodge remodel donations received by Dec. 31. The fundraising goal is $1.7 million.
The $125,000 matching donation comes on top of a $500,000 matching donation put forward by the DeBoers that kicked off the fundraising campaign last year. Sid DeBoer is founder and chairman of the board of Lithia Motors.
The lodge remodel project has resulted in several changes, including:
• Enclosing two little-used decks, adding more than 1,000 square feet of indoor space.
• Opening the first floor by moving the center interior staircase to one of the newly enclosed rooms.
• Moving the rental and ski tuning shop to the ground level of the lodge.
• Renovating the cafeteria, which has been renamed the Granite Grill.
• Moving the locker room into the former rental shop.
The lodge will be open for self-guided tours Saturday, along with opening the small terrain park adjacent to the lodge. The terrain park is free to pass holders and costs $10 for other users. Pass holders also can get their passes printed out in advance of the season.
The ski area had a banner year in 2016-17, with heavy snowfall that attracted nearly 81,000 ticket holders and brought in more than $3 million in revenue. But the beginning of this season has seen precious little snow and the area currently has a base of about 10 inches.
The pent-up demand this year was evident in recent weekend turnouts to try out the terrain park and tour the lodge.
“We were so amazed by the hundreds of people that made their way to the mountain last weekend, we could not make any other choice than to give them another day as we wait for the snow," General Manager Hiram Towle said in a press release. "The forecast is looking very promising for January, and keeping folks stoked and on the snow is what we’re all about.”
Since 1992, the ski area has been operated by the Mt. Ashland Association under a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service.