Iron Mountain owner seeks resort permit |

Iron Mountain owner seeks resort permit

Emily Aughinbaugh, Tribune staff writer

South Shore residents could have a new place to ski and snowboard come next winter if the Forest Service grants the necessary permits.

Pat Owens, owner of Iron Mountain Ski Resort, is trying to get a permit to open his newly acquired ski area, located southwest of Kirkwood.

However, Owens said he has had trouble obtaining a special use permit from the Forest Service to reopen the resort, which like most ski areas is on government land.

According to Owens the Forest Service does not feel the mountain is economically or physically viable for a ski resort. Owens paid for a study done by a design firm from Canada and an economics research group from San Francisco that concluded the opposite of the Forest Service’s in-house study.

“The mountain has the physical attributes it takes to make a ski resort, and from an economic standpoint we showed the mountain could work,” Owens said. “We’ve gotten zero cooperation from the (Forest Service). They’re not proactive in winter recreation. If the Forest Service gets their way, this will never be a ski resort again.”

Forest Service officials involved in the permitting process could not be reached for comment, however Owens said he’s appealing to the regional level and garnering support from El Dorado and Amador counties.

The El Dorado County Supervisors at the urging of Supervisor Ray Nutting will decide Tuesday on whether to support Owens and urge the Forest Supervisors of the El Dorado National Forest to reject their proposed action to remove Iron Mountain from the list of existing or potential winter sport sites.

“The Forest Service wants to take away the private sectors local commerce,” Nutting said. “I’ve always supported Heavenly and Sierra-at-Tahoe and I’m going to support Iron Mountain. As long as there’s someone to try to make a go of it I’m going to support that.”

The resort hasn’t been operational since 1994, but Owens said it is a great mountain for family, beginner and intermediate skiing. He said the mountain would also employ at least 100 people year round.

“We’re going to offer a more intimate setting than the big ski resorts offer now,” he said. “We would like to be the North Star out here. It’s a nice family ski area.”

Owens said he is prepared to fight this battle with the Forest Service as long as he has to, even though it has already cost him close to $250,000 in consulting and legal fees and a year of his time.

“This is ridiculous where this thing has gone,” Owens said. “It’s amazing that the (Forest Service) has so much power that they can shut down local commerce.”

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