The June Lake community continues to hash out its plan for the upcoming winter season, but is caught in the two steps forward, one step back dance that can make any process difficult.
At this point, the June Lake Revitalization Committee has established subcommittees and chairs, requested and been allocated $100,000 from Mono County, held meetings with Rusty Gregory and the Forest Service, and established a procedure for budget approvals.
In conjunction with the Mono County Economic Development Department and the Tourism Commission, the community has developed a form that will be filled out whenever an event or activity is planned. The form will be reviewed by the June Lake Revitalization Steering Committee, then by the Economic Development Department and will finally end up on the Tourism Commission’s desk for prioritization and approval.
The group is still nailing down what June Lake entity will be responsible for cutting the checks, but it has been narrowed down to either the Chamber of Commerce or the Historical Society. The question was expected to go before the Chamber next week.
Also next week, the Revitalization Committee meets on Sept. 12 and another meeting has been scheduled with the Economic Development and Tourism for Sept. 14.
Now for the backtrack:
At Tuesday’s Citizens Advisory Committee meeting, new safety concerns and emergency response protocol related to the June Mountain closure were raised.
“How do we handle people getting hurt,” asked CAC member Jerry Allendorf in reference to those who will hike up the face of June Mountain this year regardless of the closure and the delayed avalanche controls that are expected.
“It will happen,” said Mono County Sheriff Rick Scholl. “We deal with these issues throughout the County and we will just have to ramp up the response that’s appropriate to the situation.”
“If people get hurt on the Mountain it will not be a quick response,” added Undersheriff Ralph Obenberger. “We won’t go in unless it’s safe for us too. Skiers and boarders up on June Mountain will be low on the Sheriff’s priority list.”
It was suggested that Mammoth Mountain and the Forest Service still be expected to take some responsibility for safety on June Mountain. However, how and to what extent is currently being argued between the two entities.
MMSA’s plan for non-operation has yet to be submitted to the Forest Service and the Forest Service has yet to send a letter of non-compliance to MMSA, according to Mono County Supervisor Vikki Bauer.
“The Forest Service gets a percentage of every sale at Mammoth Mountain, which is about $2 million every year,” said CAC Chair BZ Miller of one potential reason for the delay. “You don’t want to bite the hand that feeds you.”
Mammoth District Ranger Jon Regelbrugge has stated at previous meetings that the Forest Service believes the letter of non-compliance will be challenged by MMSA once sent, so it wants to make sure all the T’s are crossed and I’s dotted so it will have a strong argument in an appeal.
In other words, District 3 Supervisor Elect Tim Alpers told The Sheet, “It’s easier to not send the letter than to deal with possible litigation.”
Another issue along the lines of safety: cell service. There is a transceiver on June Mountain that needs to be kept clear in order to keep phones working.
It wouldn’t be a matter of getting up to the transceiver, but of getting up to it a lot, the group agreed. Once buried in snow, the device would be difficult to dig out.
“We’re going to have to accept that we are just going to be taking care of ourselves at some point,” Bauer concluded.
Rusty’s response to requests
Alpers and Mono County Supervisor Larry Johnston met with Gregory approximately two weeks ago to discuss several requests from the June Lake community and the Board of Supervisors.
According to Johnston, Gregory was not in favor of providing a shuttle bus between Mammoth and June Lake.
“He said the purpose of the closure was to save money so he doesn’t want to spend money on a shuttle bus,” Johnston explained last week. He may, however, be willing to run an employee van that would take June Lake residents who work at Mammoth, to their jobs. Any extra seats in the van would be available to anyone else trying to get to Mammoth. Gregory apparently suggested a 15-passenger van since he is expecting about 8-9 employees to be traveling from June.
Gregory also said he would offer lift ticket discounts for skiers and riders who do take any shuttle bus provided to get to Mammoth, according to Johnston. Gregory was also amenable to offering discounted MMSA lift tickets in June Lake lodging packages as well as integrating June Lake into the 800.Mammoth system and using MMSA’s databases. The June Lake community will need to work with Howard Pickett and the Marketing Department, Johnston said.
Gregory was not in favor of designating the Chair 5 area for snow play due to the liability MMSA might incur from this, and he was not in favor of funding a snowcat operator for June Lake. It was suggested that perhaps Mammoth Nordic could help in this area, but upon further review, it was determined that the non-profit would not be available to help with its Nordini as the machine is maxed out with the work the group does in Mammoth.
“The group [JL Revitalization] has found that if they do anything to the snow, they’re liable,” commented Bauer.
Gregory was agreeable to clearing the June Mountain parking lot for events on a case-by-case basis, Johnston concluded.
The community is still interested in finding someone willing to buy June Mountain from MMSA CEO Rusty Gregory and MMSA. One option may be working with the Mountain Riders Alliance, a group that works to bring ski resorts back to the mountain and the skiing, and away from the big, flashy mountain scene.
The group helps resorts get away from the corporate scenario and turns running the resort into a co-op organization with a board that makes decisions. The group is expected to come talk with the community in October.