It’s a difficult business, but one that’s been in the family for the past six decades.
Bobby Tanner and his wife Claudia own Red’s Meadow Resort and Pack Station. And as Tanner says, the tourist “season” for the resort has compressed over the years.
June 10 to August 20, he told Mammoth’s Town Council during public comment at its June 26 meeting. That gives you about seventy days, or ten weeks.
Not opening the gate until July 4 means he’s literally lost one-third of his season.
He told The Sheet over a countertop at the Resort’s cafe on Tuesday that the tourist season used to extend into September when folks used to hunt. But that business doesn’t exist anymore.
The last time the gate didn’t open until July 4, recalls Tanner, was 1993, but back then the last two weeks of August were always very busy and he did $75,000 worth of deer-hunting trips in September.
Now, once the kids go back to school in mid-August, the business shrivels.
Which means getting the gate open, regardless of what kind of winter there was or how much snow fell, is of critical importance.
And this year he just didn’t feel like he got the help he needed from the Town of Mammoth Lakes.
“The Town really fumbled on this one,” Tanner proclaimed at the June 26 meeting.
His principal complaint was as follows:
In a typical year, said Tanner, Caltrans plows to Minaret Summit, and then the Town takes over and plows all the way down to the valley.
But this year, he said, Caltrans got its job done and then the Town, in his view … hesitated.
Perhaps, he said, the Town had other priorities (Lakes Basin).
But this is what worries him. The Town is set to assume maintenance of Red’s Meadow Road starting in 2022 or 2023 after the road gets a $25 million makeover thanks to a Federal Highways grant. And Tanner’s nervous that if the Town isn’t performing now [in getting Red’s open. Tanner believes Red’s Meadow should have been open by June 20 this year], what’s to say it’ll perform later.
Town Engineering Manager Haislip Hayes is sympathetic to Tanner’s plight and understands how vital it is to get the road open, but as he said this week, “We still make decisions as a group when to go [plow] … it’s based on the Forest Service asking us to help them out.”
And despite the relatively late open for the gate (July 4), the after-effects of a long winter remain. Hayes said the sewer system was still failed as of July 3 and campgrounds don’t have bathrooms. The Town has brought down port-a-potties as a stopgap measure.
The other issue which could/could not prove problematic. The Red’s Meadow Gate is normally closed to private traffic after 7:30 a.m. This has been the case historically to minimize traffic and to encourage public transportation.
According to Tanner, while the above rule will still be in effect, Mammoth District Ranger Gordon Martin has indicated to him that the gate may not be actually manned until 9 or 10 a.m.
And a rule without enforcement is bound to be ignored – and exploited.
If the gate is left unattended until later in the morning, “Just watch what a cluster-f%ck this valley’s gonna be,” said Tanner.
Mr. Martin could not be reached for comment.