June Lake residents move forward on winter activities planning

June Lake residents gathered together this past weekend to assign volunteers to work on the coming winter’s plan to keep June alive in the face of the closure of the June Mountain Ski Area. The residents were given $100,000 from Mono County last week toward the effort, with the money funneled through the county’s tourism department.

Activities such as a snow play area, a cross-country ski area, and other similar winter activities are at the top of the community’s list, according to the area’s supervisor, Vikki Bauer. Interested residents and community leaders will be meeting with the county tourism officials Friday to begin the hard work of prioritizing spending and timing, she said.

In other June Mountain news, Mono County’s U.S. Representative, Buck McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), told the Mammoth Times Tuesday that he didn’t believe the June Mountain closure would affect a land trade bill (created on behalf of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area) when (and if) it moves to the Senate, a bill that he sponsored and passed through the House earlier this spring.

“I believe the Senators might use this as a reason, but in reality, the chances of getting anything through the Senate this year is zilch,” he said, echoing MMSA CEO Rusty Gregory’s words last week that the June Mountain closure would not impact the land trade.

The reason the bill is unlikely to pass is due mostly to election year politics, McKeon said. If the bill is reintroduced next year by Mono County’s new U.S. Representative (McKeon will be redistricted out of the district in January), he would be “willing to help in whatever way possible,” he said.

The bill, HR 2157, would allow MMSA and the U.S. Forest Service to trade private lands that the forest service wants—for example, land that provides excellent habitat for endangered species—in return for MMSA gaining private ownership to a chunk of federal land near Main Lodge.

MMSA has been engaged with the forest service for many years in this land trade process, but last week, Mono County Supervisor Vikki Bauer suggested that the land trade deal might be “at risk in the Senate” now that MMSA has closed June Mountain for the coming winter season.

At least one of the state's two U.S. Senators, Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) or Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif), would need to sponsor the bill through the Senate by the end of the year.

Feinstein’s response to the Mammoth Times question about the issue was vague.

“Senator Feinstein is aware of the closure of the June Mountain Ski Area and is hopeful that its operators and local leaders can work together to develop a strategy that will allow it to reopen as soon as possible,” said spokesman Brian Weiss.

Senator Boxer’s office did not respond before press time.