It’s an uphill struggle for people wanting to downhill ski at the Cedar Pass Snow Park.
Once again, the ski area, located between Alturas and Cedarville on Highway 299, is challenged by a combination of inadequate snow and, more significantly, how to pay for the required liability insurance. If the area opens, insurance will cost about $15,000, while the charge if it does not open is about $6,000.
“It’s not hopeless; it’s just difficult,” said Bill Price, one of the ski area supporters.
Price and other ski hill supporters have scheduled a reorganizational meeting at a to-be announced time on Saturday, Jan. 17, probably at the ski hill. Agenda items will include a plan for paying for insurance, including the possibility of being managed by another smaller ski area, along with an election of officers, update on the group’s status as a 501c3 corporation, preparation of a revised operating plan, discussion on start-up costs to open the area, fundraising efforts, development of a business plan and the need for more volunteers.
Price said a revised operating plan is needed because the current plan has expired. Because the ski area is on Modoc National Forest land, the plan must receive Forest Service approval. “The Forest Service has been real helpful,” he said of cooperation with the Modoc.
The most immediate concern is insurance. In recent years, Cedar Pass was able to reduce insurance costs by having a joint policy with the Warner Canyon Ski Area near Lakeview. Insurance adjustors, however, determined each area is required to have its own policy unless one of the ski groups takes management responsibilities for both areas.
In an email to ski hill supporters, Price said Cedar Pass must make a proposal to “provide incentive for the other party to help us manage our operation and cover our insurance. A new lease could provide that a certain percentage of our revenues would go to the lessee and a certain percentage would be put back into our mountain in improvements.”
Price said a new arrangement with the Fremont Highlanders, the group that manages Warner Canyon, “would be excellent because they have hands-on knowledge.”
“All that’s on the table,” said Highlanders President Barry Shullanberger. He emphasized the Lakeview group is focused on its own concerns, including a lack of snow that threatens to have the area closed for the third time in four seasons. (See related story below.)
“We just have to assume we’re going to have snow,” Price said of low snow conditions at Cedar Pass, which would prevent the area from opening, even if insurance and other issues were resolved. He noted Cedar Pass opened briefly late last season but was handicapped because a lack of volunteers created a “severe burnout” and prevented it from being open two consecutive weekend days.
“We need a revolving volunteer list so the folks who do step up aren’t called on to do the full day, both days, every weekend,” Price said in the email.
Facilities at Cedar Pass include a ski lodge that offers rental skis and food concessions.
“I think we could start with a few thousand dollars, plus insurance,” Price said of funds needed to operate. “I wouldn’t rule out there being enough snow to operate later in this season.”
He said another 18 to 24 inches of snow is needed to boost the existing snowpack, which has been dwindling in recent days because of unseasonably warm weather.
“It was looking real good until the first of the year,” he said.
Price said a goal at the to-be scheduled reorganization meeting will be devising a way to raise funds to operate the area this season. The ski area is expecting to receive a $200,000 estate donation this spring that he and others hope can be invested. It’s hoped interest from the donation will provide an estimated $4,000 annually that can be used to offset operating costs. He said the group also may consider working with area schools to offer physical education skiing classes, hold fundraising events and seek other possible donors.
“This is the best place in the world to teach kids to ski, and we ought to stress that as our theme,” Price said.
In contrast to larger ski areas, where a daily ski pass costs $74 to $150, he said Cedar Pass is inexpensive, with last year’s day pass costing $15 for the T-bar and $5 for the rope tow plus about $15 to rent ski equipment. He said the area typically has 30 to 60 skiers and riders daily when open.
People interested in participating in planning efforts for Cedar Pass should call him at 530-640-1451 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.