The Mt. Ashland Expansion from the View of Skier

Clara Honsinger

As an avid skier and honorary donor to the Mt. Ashland Association, I am in full support of the local non-profit organization that serves our valley as the closest local ski area. I have skied the mountain since I was three and have spent almost every weekend from mid-December through April carving up the great terrain that the small area provides. I know the trails like the back of my hand; every turn, every drop and every line down a run. The area is home for me, that is why it might be surprising to find that I do not believe in expanding the resort.

What I see in the expansion is waste. The plan is to annex 200 additional acres to the front side just west of the Aerial Chair. This would involve building two high-speed quads to service the logging of 16 new runs. Most of the runs would be green circles or blue squares but not a single black diamond, of which the area is well known for. The terrain will be flat, boring groomers and drop to a low enough elevation to get rained on in the warm weather inversions common to the the Siskiyous. In general, there is not a whole lot of terrain suitable for downhill skiing to expand on as most of it is off limits to construction or already part of the ski area boundaries. The ski area was built on its current location for a reason, it is the highest point in the Siskiyous and has some of the best skiing terrain in the region.

Mt. Ashland also stands as an eyesore. It is disappointing to look up at the vast and beautiful hills rising from Lithia Park only to the ski area at the top, with its runs shaved patchily down its sides, distorting the solid green trees, and the obnoxious white ball of the weather station on top. Expanding the area would only drag the effect down farther.

Finally, I am a firm believer in conserving nature. I am unsure whether expanding the area will really affect our drinking water, but I am sure that it will affect the species of animals and plants living there, such as Mt. Ashland lupine (endemic to the area), henderson’s horkelia (grows in few other places on earth), the pacific fisher (petitioned onto the endangered species list) and the basic black bears, mountain lions, northern spotted and great gray owls, and ponderosa pines. This region of the Siskiyou Mountain Range is one of the most diverse ecosystems on earth. It is simply unethical to propose altering this ecosystem any further than we have already.

If the Mt. Ashland Association wants to attract more people to its facilities, it should focus on something with a lesser impact, such as maintaining a small nordic ski area. This would attract a different branch of skiers and not affect the environment nearly as much, as well as being cheaper to maintain than the enormous responsibility of two ski lifts. All the while, expansion or no expansion, I encourage others to take advantage of the great little ski area above our town and support one of the last remaining not-for-profit ski areas in the country.