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Mt. Ashland lodge renovation may get delayed

A renovation project for the Mt. Ashland Ski Area lodge may not get started before next ski season because of the need for a public comment period and an agreement on mitigation for adverse effects to the structure’s historical character.

“We are not sure which of the pieces we could get done. We are talking about some of the pieces now,” said ski area General Manager Hiram Towle. Bids for work on the $1.4 million project were opened Wednesday, and discussions are underway with contractors on what could be accomplished.

The U.S. Forest Service, which must approve the work, will incorporate the comments into a mitigation agreement that needs approval from the State Historical Preservation Officer. The public comment period opened Tuesday and closes June 6.

“It affects timing of the project. It can’t go ahead until we get that mitigation agreement with SHPO,” said Ranger Donna Mickley of the Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District.

The Forest Service is required to assess proposed actions on historic structures on its lands. The lodge, built in 1964, was found to be eligible for placement on the National Register of Historic Places.

Mickley said public comments might be incorporated within 30 days after the comment period opened, but SHPO then has 30 days to consider an agreement, pushing any potential work start into late July. The two agencies and the nonprofit Mt. Ashland Association already have collaborated on potential mitigation efforts that are outlined in a Forest Service scoping letter on the project.

“Mount Ashland, the Forest Service and SHPO met. We came up with some measures we are considering,” said Mickley. “We still have public comment and still have to do a procedure with SHPO.”

Mt. Ashland has proposed a number of renovations to the lodge, including enclosure of two decks to create more indoor space, replacement of the shake roofing with metal, creation of an entryway structure, changes to the food service area, relocation of the ski rental shop to the basement and more. Some of the work may be broken out for completion before winter begins, Towle said.

The association has raised almost $1 million for project costs. Required matching donations for a $500,000 challenge grant from the Sid and Karen DeBoer Foundation are close to their goal. Fundraising is ahead of projected timelines, he said.

The Forest Service scoping letter cited enclosure of the two outdoor decks and replacement of the wood shakes with metal roofing as alterations that would have adverse effects. Ways to minimize or mitigate the effects are allowed by federal rules governing historic structures. The Forest Service, Mt. Ashland and SHOP have identified three mitigation strategies. They are:

• Photographic documentation of the building prior to improvements and archiving of other documentation.

• Creation of an interpretive display showing building history and skiing development to be installed inside the lodge.

• Evaluation of the historic significance of the ski rental building, a separate structure.

One part of the project, moving the rental shop from its current location to the basement of the lodge, would be dependent upon enclosure of the two decks that would add a total of 1,000 square feet. The space is needed to accommodate additional people who would be using the lodge, Towle said.

The scoping letter and information on how to submit comments can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=51872. Renovation information is at www.mtashland.com.

— Tony Boom is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail. com.