Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort announced with enthusiasm last week that it has been granted a summer operations permit from the U.S. Forest Service.
Starting with two one-day events this August, Meadows will be allowed to run limited summer operations for the first time in the ski area’s 46- year history.
USFS’s expanded permitting is a result of the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement act of 2011, passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in October of that year as a means to encourage additional recreational offerings by ski areas operating under USFS permitting. With permits only recently finalized and approved, Meadows will only run two days of summer operations this year (details below), but is looking ahead to the many possibilities for next summer and beyond. “Since the Forest Service guidelines were released in April, we’ve been working closely with the Mt. Hood National Forest specifically to get a summer operational plan approved,” said Matthew Drake, Meadows’ president and CEO.
“These first two events are indicative of the direction we want to take our summer events and activities, offering recreation, social, competitive and educational experiences to our guests. We are looking forward to growing our operational and events schedule in the future to offer a wider spectrum of developed recreation and educational opportunities that will encourage more people to enjoy Mt. Hood Meadows year-round.”
On Aug. 16, the resort will host the first Meadows Uphill Challenge — a 1.2-mile run/walk on a gravel mountain road starting at the main lodge and ending at the top of the Stadium chairlift. Course records will be kept for each age category — starting at ages 5-9, and increasing in five-year increments. Prize money will be awarded for the fastest overall male and female finishers. The race starts at 10 a.m.; registration and bib pick-up starts at 8 a.m.
The second event, on Aug. 23, is an all-day outdoor camp for kids ages 6-12; it will include education on native plants and wildlife, games, art projects, a chairlift ride, interpretive trail hike and lunch. On both days, the resort will also run the Stadium chairlift and the Sun Deck BBQ will be open for food and refreshments. For info or to register for either event, visit skihood. com. According to Dave Tragethon, Meadows’ executive director of social media and public relations, the resort is focusing on “low-impact, unobtrusive activities” and is paying very close attention to the sensitive flora, fauna and habitat that makes the area so special in the summer months.
The resort is not, he says, planning on activities such as disc golf or mountain biking, at least for the near future.
“Hiking really comes to the forefront,” Tragethon said. “An activity like disc golf probably wouldn’t fly. One of the things we need to do is make sure people stay in designated areas.” Tragethon said in addition to hiking and scenic chairlift rides, the resort will focus on interpretive and educational activities, and on competitive summer events.
Being able to operate through the summer could also have implications for extended winter/spring ski seasons, which often are shut down due to tapering customer numbers, not lack of snow. Tragethon said that if the resort can attract enough people during its former off-season, that would potentially bring in enough customers to justify staying open for skiing and snowboarding longer into the spring and early summer