After all the heartburn of the past four and a half months, June Mountain will reopen next season, according to recent reports from Mammoth Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory.
MMSA announced June Mountain’s closure on June 20 this year, sending the June Lake community and even the Forest Service in a tailspin. June Mountain is operated by Mammoth Mountain under a special use permit from the Forest Service. However, Mammoth District Ranger Jon Regelbrugge reported back in the summer that even his agency had not been notified of the closure plans until the very last minute.
Since then, the Forest Service issued a letter of non-compliance to MMSA, which asked that the Mountain provide two things to avoid further disciplinary action. One, a plan for managing June Mountain this season while it’s closed and two, a plan that explained the planning process MMSA would use to re-open June Mountain.
“Non-compliance is a progressive disciplinary action,” Regelbrugge said this week. If MMSA did not provide the plans then the Forest Service would have to take the next step in the progression. Regelbrugge did not state what the next step would be, but he did confirm that the non-operating plan for June Mountain this winter had indeed been submitted by MMSA.
“A cover letter that accompanied this plan said they did not believe they need to submit the second plan because June Mountain was unequivocally going to be open for business next year,” Regelbrugge said. The Forest Service is currently reviewing the documents submitted by MMSA.
“The banks this year demanded that we come up with $2 million,” Gregory said in an interview this week. “The [reducing] air subsidy and [closing] June Mountain were the quickest ways to come up with it. There wasn’t a long, thoughtful discussion on the impacts of the closure [at that time]. It was about coming up with the money.
“We’re opening it up and we want to keep it open,” he continued. That said, he added “There will be no new J1 chair for 2013. We don’t have a lot of capital to throw at it [June].”
Gregory also stated that June shouldn’t be viewed as an extension of Mammoth Mountain’s skier capacity. He said it needs to be promoted as a unique experience targeted at the right market. He felt that many small New England resorts have done this well.
When asked if opening June was a quid pro quo for the Main Lodge land trade, Gregory said, “I don’t view it as a quid pro quo [opening June in exchange for completing a Main Lodge land trade with the USFS]. Politically, there’s not that much of a tie-in.”
June Lake community
At the June Lake Citizens Advisory Committee meeting held on Tuesday this week, community members seemed somewhat unfazed by the news that June Mountain would reopen next winter.
June Mountain General Manager Carl Williams was present and stated that MMSA had submitted plans to the Forest Service several weeks ago, but hadn’t heard back.
“Our plan right now is to open June Mountain for the 2013/14 season,” he said. “We are booking weddings for next summer, but we probably won’t be open [in the summer] on a daily basis.”
The CAC then continued on with its planning for new events this winter, as well as ideas for expanded activities for June Lake. As CAC member Connie Black and others have pointed out in the past few months, these events and activities need to continue to be planned and implemented whether June Mountain is reopening or not, and they need to continue even after the Mountain reopens in order to help the community break away from its dependency on June Mountain.