Mt. A is for all, not just skiers

In the face of community division, dare I write a letter on behalf of a wild mountain?




We have been discussing expansion of the ski area on Mount Ashland for over 10 years. Lately, this conversation is red hot. But comments in the online Daily Tidings () reflect the ugliness of our people.




Perhaps Ashland lost it's soul and this place where "green becomes mainstream" is as empty as the Elizabethian Theater in January. How else can we explain hiding behind pseudonyms and computer screens while publicly stoning our neighbors for caring enough to participate?




This letter is about the mountain, the wilderness in our backyard. Right now this land is totally accessible to outdoor enthusiasts. Not just to skiers, but to telemarketers, snowboarders, snow shoe enthusiasts and hikers too. This, in contrast to the MAA Ski Area, which is closed to everyone who doesn't pay to play.




This land is home to the Pacific Fischer, a rare and private being. A being that needs people to remind other people that fischer and cougar and countless other beings live in these wildlands and have lived here long before us white folks moved into the valley. These beasts and their wildlife corridor are an important and often overlooked part of this conversation.




Expansion would double the ski runs (also known as clear cuts), altering the view of the mountain from Ashland. While there are definitely downhill skiers in the valley, the majority of people here are not that.




Why impact everyone's view for the sake of a few?




The same question applies when we turn our attention to the watershed. Why risk affecting the purity of our water for the sake of a few? Even if the possibility of tainting the water supply is remote, why take the chance? Will I benefit from expansion, no. Who will? Good question!




Perhaps some people are seething in anger as they read these words, but these words are born of love. Love for a place that has tested my will and revealed to me strength I didn't know I had.




Perhaps for some, downhill skiing is a wonderful hobby. For me vast expanses of wild lands, intact wildlife corridors, beautiful views, clean water and respect for future generations of humans and of beasts, are far more important than sliding down clear cuts on fiberglass tools and riding up on huge, growling, high impact machines.




Elizabeth Bretko




Jacksonville

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