Townspeople Happy, Cautious About June Mountain Resurrection
It’s understandable that the people of June Lake, Calif., would be excited but skeptical about the re-opening of June Mountain after enduring a season without their winter lifeblood.
“It’s pretty certain that the business people in town couldn’t be happier,” John Logue, owner of Ernie’s Ski and Tackle in June Lake, told SnoCountry.com. “It was a long winter.”
Mammoth Mountain, which bought June Mountain in 1986, shuttered June’s operations before the 2012-13 season as part of a massive restructuring of the company’s debt. At the time, news reports said Mammoth executives cited a lack of beds in town but promised to look hard at how June could be run more profitably.
The closure also came on the heels of an awful snow year in 2011-12, when June was open only for several weeks. June sits on the June Lake Loop, 20 miles north of Mammoth -- about a 30-minute drive.
The abrupt closure got Mammoth in trouble with the U.S. Forest Service for violating its land-use permit. About the same time, Mammoth tried to get congressional approval to swap private lands for the parcel at the base where the aging Mammoth Inn sits. June Lake residents argued that the resort hadn’t been a good steward in their town and didn’t deserve special treatment anywhere else. The land swap stalled.
Mammoth CEO Rusty Gregory announced last April, that June Mountain would reopen this December – and with a new Chair 1, upgraded snowmaking, and a reinforced emphasis on families and beginners.
“Of course we’re glad, after such a tough winter,” Kim Willingham, manager of Gull Lake Lodge told SnoCountry.com. “And, in the back of our minds, we’re still asking, how long will it be open? Is it just this year? Or is this long term? It’s natural to think that way.”
Gull Lake Lodge had to close for the 2012-13 winter, Willingham said, and plenty of people moved out to find jobs elsewhere. One consequence was the further shrinking of an already “tiny” school district, she said, where the high school has only 40 students.
“Some restaurants closed, and a few hotels,” said Willingham, a June Lake native. “Some kept a couple of rooms open, but we couldn’t do that. “Now we’re optimistic,” she said. “I’m particularly excited that slow, old Chair One is getting replaced.”
Logue said he was all for the family-friendly focus: “June Mountain is a truly a jewel as a family area. You can let your kids go at the top and meet them at the bottom without having to worry about them.”
Photo: Powder day at June Mountain (Facebook)