Election Section

Klamath Basin ski area proposal has been formally withdrawn

By Jeff Barnard, The Associated Press
Saturday December 08, 2001

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — With no clear signals whether the Bush administration would make it easier to build ski areas on federal land, Jeld-Wen Inc. has formally given up its $4 million effort to develop Pelican Butte ski resort on the Winema National Forest. 

The forest published notice in the Federal Register last week of Jeld-Wen’s decision not to renew its application for a special use permit for the $37 million project outside Klamath Falls. 

Jeld-Wen is a leading manufacturer of doors and windows and a major resort developer through its Eagle Crest Inc. subsidiary. 

Chances for Pelican Butte appeared dim last January after President Clinton prohibited development on millions of acres of national forests. Plans for the project included nine lifts and 54 ski runs. 

When President Bush took over the White House and began looking at ways to change Clinton’s roadless policy, the ski resort appeared to have a chance. 

But “it really never happened,” said Kurt Schmidt, environmental coordinator on the project for Jeld-Wen. “Time drug on. ... We just said we had no other options than to withdraw our application.” 

Opponents, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, had argued that the ski area threatened springs and creeks flowing into the Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge on Upper Klamath Lake, as well as birds and fish protected by the Endangered Species Act. Northern spotted owls and bald eagles nest in the area and shortnosed suckers and Lost River suckers live in the lake. 

The project also faced difficulties under the Northwest Forest Plan, developed to protect fish and wildlife on national forests in Oregon and Washington. 

The ski industry has been flat nationwide, and Roseburg Forest Products is developing its own $35 million golf and ski resort midway between Redding, Calif., and Reno, Nev.  

That project faces fewer hurdles because it on private land, and is closer to the lucrative San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles markets.