The introduction of HR 1241, sponsored by Congressman Paul Cook has infuriated June Lake community members who have been reaching out to him on the very topic of the bill for more than two months.
HR 1241 was assigned to a congressional committee on March 18 and is an exact replica of HR 2157, which was meant to facilitate Mammoth Mountain Ski Area’s land trade but never made it past the Senate last year.
MMSA Vice President of Real Estate Jim Smith confirmed that the new bill is identical to HR 2157.
“We requested that the bill be reintroduced,” Smith told The Sheet. “We are starting over.”
It seems that Cook has an ear to the ground for part of his constituency but not others since he reportedly has yet to respond to June Lake community members. Some June residents contend Cook’s staff did not even realize Mono County was part of his district until recently.
“I am disappointed that Congressman Cook ignored phone calls from the community,” said Mono County District 3 Supervisor Tim Alpers. “I would think he would want to get to know his constituency.”
Alpers added, however, that he wasn’t surprised that Cook was ignoring June Lake.
“People like Cook are the rule because we are a small vote,”Alpers said, adding that politicians such as Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, who have been watching the June Mountain and land trade issues closely, are the exception.
Since Cook was elected as the new representative for Mono County last year, he sponsored the new HR 1241, but Buck McKeon, HR 2157’s original sponsor is also listed as a co-sponsor of the new bill.
“It’s the same thing with the same language,” Smith said. “We’re just hoping it will make it through this time. The Senate was bogged down last year and the bill never rose to the top.”
“I didn’t realize they were moving forward that fast but the real hurdle will be passing the Senate,” Alpers commented.
The land exchange is subject to a legislative process for two reasons. First, it will exceed the cash equalization cap of 25 percent, and second the properties include lands outside of the Forest Service boundary.
Explanation: Generally, cash is only a max of 25% of any Forest Service land trade, but due to the value of the Main Lodge property, more than 25% cash is required to even things in this deal.
Smith said he did not see a connection between the issues at June Mountain and the MMSA land swap.
“I understand what they’re [June Lake residents] doing, but we’re trying to move forward on both fronts. We’ll be giving a presentation on the Peer Resort Tour in a few weeks. We’re moving in the right direction.”
Members of the June Lake community have been trying to get in touch with Cook for several months to discuss the Mammoth Mountain Land Exchange, which they see directly linked to the issues at June Mountain. They feel MMSA should not be rewarded with a land trade when it can’t be a good land steward for June Mountain.
Cook’s office told community members that Cook would schedule a meeting with them the next time he was in Mono County, but no date was set and no specifics given.
The Peer Resort Tour presentation is scheduled to take place this Tuesday, April 2 at the June Lake Citizen’s Advisory Committee meeting at 7 p.m. at the June Lake Community Center, according to Alpers. The Board of Supervisors will adjourn from its regular meeting on Tuesday and reconvene in June Lake for the presentation.
“The Board is ready to hear from MMSA,” Alpers said. “We want fair hearings and don’t want to prejudge until then.”
Alpers added that an email address would be distributed Tuesday evening where the public can comment on the presentation.
The following week, on April 9, Alpers said, MMSA CEO Rusty Gregory is scheduled to speak at the Board of Supervisors meeting.
At the March 5 Board of Supervisors meeting, MMSA was expected to attend and ask the Supervisors for a letter of support for a land trade. MMSA didn’t show at that meeting claiming it needed more time to digest the results of the peer resort tour and asking that the letter request be removed from the agenda.
“Rusty Gregory told me that the land trade had been put on the back burner for now,” Alpers said.
At that time there was supposedly no new bill on the table regarding the land trade.