Ski resort owner goes to Congress to get help for opening
Iron Mountain Ski Resort owner Pat Owens has gone straight to Congress to get help to open his ski resort next year.
Owens has been in an almost yearlong battle with the U.S. Forest Service to keep the winter recreational classification of Iron Mountain, located just southwest of Kirkwood.
Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif., who sits on a committee that oversees natural land usage, recently sent a letter to the Forest Service requesting a meeting and asking that the public comment period on whether to change the mountain’s classification be extended from 30 days to 120 days.
Richard Robinson, spokesman for Doolittle’s office, said the Forest Service has yet to respond to the Congressman’s request.
Doolittle said he feels Owens should be given the special-use permit to open the ski resort, according to Robinson.
“(Doolittle) feels very strongly that our forests should be managed with a multiple-uses perspective,” Robinson said.
Owens bought Iron Mountain a year ago and had hoped to turn the resort into an affordable family ski area targeted at the Sacramento, Stockton and Gardnerville communities.
The Forest Service claims the mountain is not economically or physically viable for a ski resort and officials said they want to take away its winter sports classification, which Supervisor Ray Nutting said would be almost impossible to switch back if the classification was changed.
Janice Gordon, an Amador District forest ranger, said the original 30-day comment period will end Saturday, so the Forest Service has yet to make a decision on whether to change Iron Mountain’s classification.
Owens said the Forest Service is supposed to respond Thursday as to whether the comment period will be extended.
He said if the period is extended, he hopes to meet with Regional Forester Brad Powell and someone from Doolittle’s office in December to discuss solutions to issues the Forest Service has with Iron Mountain.
“We haven’t had the opportunity to sit down with the Forest Service in the last year,” Owens said. “It hasn’t been a working relationship. We hope to resolve the issue and move forward with the reopening of the mountain.”
The last time Iron Mountain was open to skiing was 1994.
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