WINTERSPORTS -- The owner of an Oregon ski area says he won’t open this season because of concerns about snowmobiles creating an unsafe environment in his parking lot.
Spout Springs Ski Area owner John Murray says the slopes are otherwise ready to open but that the machines have made the parking area too dangerous for customers.
The family-owned ski area operates under a special use permit with the Umatilla National Forest. It is also a designated Sno-Park area, allowing it to be used as a launch point for snowmobiles to access trails.
Murray says there have already been some close calls and he doesn’t want to be responsible for anyone getting hurt.
Walla Walla District Ranger Mike Rassbach says the forest is trying to make sure everyone plays by the rules.
The ski area offers opportunities for the beginning skier as well as the advanced. The ski area, favored by beginners and families looking for a day on the snow, boasts four lifts serving 11 downhill trails and 21 Nordic tracks on 250 skiable acres. Spout Springs
Here's the notice posted on the Spout Springs website:
Spout Springs Ski Area
will be closed this season
As always, the staff at Spout Springs Ski Area is concerned about the safety of our customers above all else. Policy that has been set by the USFS regarding snow removal in the parking area and the use of high speed snowmobiles around the general public has created a hazardous situation. This situation has materially interfered with the operation of the ski area. Members of the USFS have even gone as far as to dictate ski area policy within the permit area.
This type of activity does not mix with a learn to ski area and does not make economic sense for the day to day operation. Without a parking area we do not have a ski area. Without the ability to make judgement calls regarding safety we cannot provide a safe environment for the families that use the facility.
Any questions should be addressed to: Mike Rassbach, District Ranger, Walla Walla Ranger District, telephone (509) 522-6290.