SKI AREA'S MASTER PLAN WINS OK

November 19, 2001 11:00 pm
SKI AREA GETS A BOOST: Anthony Lakes' lone chairlift will be joined by two others under a master plan that has won the approval of the U.S. Forest Service. Construction could begin next summer. (File photo.).
SKI AREA GETS A BOOST: Anthony Lakes' lone chairlift will be joined by two others under a master plan that has won the approval of the U.S. Forest Service. Construction could begin next summer. (File photo.).

By Jayson Jacoby

For The Observer

The U.S. Forest Service has endorsed a plan to build two new chairlifts and add on to the lodge at the Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort ski area.

The Forest Services approval is necessary because the resort, in the Elkhorn Mountains southwest of La Grande, is located on public land.

Adding the new lifts would boost the areas comfortable carrying capacity from the current 660 skiers per day to about 1,200, said Rick Pignone, Anthony Lakes general manager.

Construction could start as soon as next summer.

Anthony Lakes Mountain resort has taken great pride in improving and upgrading the ski area since the resort was purchased by the present owners in June 1998, said Karyn Wood, supervisor of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

Approval and implementation of the master development plan will further enhance the publics recreational experience at Anthony Lakes.

The ski areas owners are Parke and Gail Ball and Lee and Connie Kearney, all of Vancouver, Wash., and Kim and Dana Kutsch of Albany.

One of the two new lifts would be a quad, a first for Anthony Lakes.

The lift would start in the meadow below the lodge and extend to the base of the K2 run, Pignone said.

Anthony Lakes plans also call for moving the handle tow to a new beginners area, and replacing it with a double lift.

The existing Rock Garden triple chair, which the area installed two years ago to replace a double, will remain. The resorts owners dont plan to build a chairlift on the back side of the mountain, although snowcat skiing will continue there, Pignone said.

He said the goal is to better use the existing runs.

Now, Anthony Lakes averages about one to two skiers per acre, Pignone said, compared with a national average of 12 skiers per acre.

When the new lifts are running, the density would increase to six to eight skiers per acre, Pignone said.

Anthony Lakes also has dropped an earlier proposal to rent snowmobiles, he said.

To accommodate all the extra skiers, the resort will have to expand both its lodge and parking areas.

Although Anthony Lakes doesnt have any architectural drawings yet, Pignone said the lodge probably will double in size.

Copies of the environmental impact statement for the Anthony Lakes expansion are available from the Baker Ranger District, 3165 10th St., Baker City, OR. 97814, or by calling 541-523-1929.

The resort owners plan to remove the existing rental shop and the A-frame buildings adjacent to the lodge, he said.

Anthony Lakes also will need to add on to its water and sewer systems, Pignone said.

Some of the resorts previous owners proposed building a motel at the resort, but Pignone said the current owners have a different strategy.

Our idea is that we bring the skiers up here during the day, and send then down at night to the towns, he said.

The Forest Services approval of the plan is subject to appeal through Jan. 4, 2002.