PINEDALE – Local skiers, snowboarders and lodge-loungers rejoice. White Pine Ski Area will open for the upcoming winter season. A local group, Citizens to Save White Pine, announced last week that they plan to have the ski area open and operational by the time the hills are covered with powder.
“It was a community endeavor,” Rex Poulson, a member of the Citizens to Save White Pine, said. “We’re hoping to go forward and find a way for it to be open 10 years from now.”
White Pine will look and feel just like it did before the ski area took a season off last year, according to Poulson. There are no changes planned and all of the area’s old features will reopen again, he said.
The Citizens to Save White Pine group tried working through a number of options to get the ski hill operating again but was unable to reach a solution last year. After some negotiating and meeting among themselves, the group decided to go forward on its own and open for this season.
“We’re going forward. It doesn’t do anybody any good to have it set there closed,” Poulson said.
One of the group’s main incentives to open this season was to retain the U.S. Forest Service permits. The ski area is on federal land, but is permitted for ski area use by several permits, which might have been retired had the area gone unused.
If the permits had been retired, it could have taken years of work to reopen the resort, as is the case in Buffalo, Wyo., with Antelope Butte Resort, according to Poulson.
To get White Pine in operating shape for the season, Poulson said he is working on lift maintenance and eventually hiring a lift technician.
“We’ll be doing maintenance from now until the middle of November,” he said.
Through the group will open the ski area this year, Citizens to Save White Pine is not planning to operate the business in the long term.
“None of us expected to be in the ski business two years ago (when the group purchased the property),” Ken Konicek, another Citizens to Save White Pine member, said. “Our intention was always to keep it open for the community and then get it over to somebody.”
Poulson and Konicek reported that they had some interest from potential buyers in the business, but could not discuss any specifics yet.
“We’ve always wanted to have it open, but we’re still working on that long-term process to get it over to some other group or individual that wants to operate it for the long term,” Konicek said.
In the meantime, the group is in discussions with Pinedale High School to bring the ski team to White Pine, instead of bussing skiers to Jackson, Poulson said.
In March 2013, White Pine will host a snowmobile hill climb, Poulson confirmed.
Pinedale Travel and Tourism Commission marketing director Serese Kudar had hinted at the possibility in recent commission meetings, saying the deal was essentially done.
“We’re really looking forward to that, and the local hill-climbers are too,” Poulson said.
As for skiers and snowboarders, Poulson and Konicek said they will rely on the support of the community to keep the ski area in good standing.
“We’re excited. We hope the community’s excited. If we don’t get the community’s support, that’ll tell everybody something … but everything in the last 10 years says the community wants to use it and wants to see it stay open,” Konicek said.
Season tickets are already on sale at the Great Outdoor Shop and A to Z Hardware in Pinedale.
For the complete article see the 10-02-2012 issue.
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