Opposing Views: Mt. Ashland Expansion/ Watershed



By James Risner

One of the conflicts that stuck out to me today is the recent conflict with the Ashland Ski Area’s expansion. Now, this conflict was nothing new, having erupted into public view in 2005. It all started with the Ashland Ski Area’s move to expand, and was suspended due to a lawsuit filed in 2005 by the Rogue Group Sierra Club. The Group stated that if the Park Service did not intervene to their satisfaction they would sue again. Now, protecting the environment is a wonderful thing, however this can be taken to far. An example of such noble action is when a proposal for running an oil pipeline through the Mt. Ashland area in the 80’s. This was stopped however and for a very good reason. The idea of running an oil pipeline through the Mt. Ashland area, an area containing the watershed for the Ashland area. If such oil were to spill then damage to the watershed would be catastrophic.

However, the watershed is not at risk here at all. The extension of the Mt. Ashland Ski Area would be in no way harmful to any watershed or impact the environment that much. This project offers many economic benefits to the city of Ashland. The increased ability to handle more customers on the part of the ski resort would bring in more income for the resort, and ultimately more tax revenue. More tax revenue means that Ashland would better be able to protect the environment where it needs to be protected. The Ski Resort is ready to expand and has enough money to do so. (Roughly 3.8 million dollars in cash) There’s no logical reason to try and stop this expansion, so why try to?

Opposition makes claims such as the watershed and other area’s environment being destroyed or severely damaged despite the US Park and US Forrest Service saying that in no way will the environment be damaged severely, and the Forrest Service refuses to recognize any claims the Sierra Club has made. The Sierra Club has threatened to sue the Mt. Ashland Ski Area Association for the second time, after the court first ruled in favor of the Association. It seems however that the Sierra Club was not satisfied with the decision of the court, and has opted to sue the Mt. Ashland Ski Area Association until the give into their demands or until they no longer have any money. As an example of their stubbornness Tom Dimitre stated “We’ll be back in court if there were no changes.”

The proposed expansion, simulated view.


The environmental groups have also expressed concern for the habitat around the ski specifically the spotted owl, making the audacious claim that it’s thousand acre habitat was at risk due to the expansion. However, this isn’t really a justified concern considering that there’s no reason to why it would. If I had to guess why it would happen, I’d say it’d happen using some evil entrepreneur curse, which seems to be the train of thought the opposition has taken.

The watershed is not in any danger and the Ski Resort would prove to be very beneficial to the City of Ashland. The further the Sierra Club continues to press this issue based on rumors and pure speculation, the further the erode their credibility. All in all, the Mt. Ashland Ski Association should be allowed to expand considering that there is in no way, shape or form a credible threat to the environment. The watershed is not in any danger and the Ski Resort would prove to be very beneficial to the City of Ashland.



Art by Jericho Apollo.




By Bronson Samel-Garloff

Can skiing have an effect on our water supply and the environment?

These are the questions that everyone must ask themselves about the Mt. Ashland expansion which is a proposition to clear cut 71+ acres of old growth forest, add 200 new parking spaces, add 15 new ski runs, and a second lodge.

The reason why many citizens of Ashland are opposed to this expansion is because of their concerns about how it will affect the delicate ecosystem of the area, and of course Ashland’s watershed  which is the city’s source of water. It will also increase the risk of avalanches due to erosion from the uprooting of hundreds of trees which hold the soil together.

Ashland’s watershed is already at risk to erosion due to the nature of the soil which is mostly composed of decomposed granite. If Mt. Ashland were to go through with the expansion and clear cut hundreds of trees that are holding the soil together then all the upturned and loose soil would move downhill, dumping into the Ashnald creek basin. This would cause problems with water filtration, and during the dry seasons it would create blockage, choking our water supply. These same concerns are shared by John Schuyler, the Acting District Ranger of the United States Forest Service in 2003, in his report on the Mt. Ashland expansion.(http://mountashland.com/info/epaletter.html)

Our major concerns are that the Ski Area expansion may increase erosion in the highly erosive soils of the expansion area, causing water quality effects downstream in Cottonwood and Ashland Creek”, Schuyler says in his report.

As for the ecosystem, there are many different rare species of plants and animals such as the Pacific Fisher( a small weasel), Henderson’s Horkelia( a type of rosebush), the Engelmann Spruce( a type of tree), and the Ashland lupin(a flowering pod plant) which will all be negatively affected by the expansion. The destruction of these plants and animals will have a huge negative affect on the Mt. Ahsland ecosystem.

On top of all these problems is the fact that Mt. Ashland is unable to pay for the expansion. To go through with the project Mt. Ashland would need to raise $ 17 Million, and Mt. Ashland has had to file Financial Bankruptcy three times already. Will it have to again due to the direction it is going?

Currently, Mt. Ashland is trying to raise the money to start the project, but many people of Ashland and the Sierra Club are trying to bring them to court.  Activists in town have started a boycott against Mt. Ashland to slow their fundraising efforts, and encourage other locals to participate.

Although the Forest Service has given Mt. Ashland the all clear, it can not completely rule out these risks due to the unpredictability of nature.