Posted: Aug 22, 2012 1:36 PM by Dennis Bragg - MTN News
Senator Max Baucus is stepping into the fight over the operation of a popular cross-country ski cabin on the Montana-Idaho border, telling the U.S. Forest Service to work out an agreement with a local ski group to keep the cabin open.
The fight over the Gordon Reese Cabin at the Chief Joseph Ski Area has been getting increasing attention in recent weeks, with the Bitterroot Cross-Country Ski Club accusing the Forest Service of changing terms of a long-standing agreement.
(photo courtesy Bitterroot Cross-Country Ski Club)
The club worked to establish the ski area in the late 1980s, and built the cabin in 2001 after a fund drive that raised more than $100,000. Club members also provide volunteer efforts such as trail grooming.
But now the ski club is accusing the U.S. Forest Service of moving forward with a plan to start charging user fees for using the ski area and the cabin.
In a letter sent to Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell Wednesday, Baucus asked the agency to consider the structure of the unique partnership with the ski club and work out a compromise.
"Given the dedication and sacrifice that Ski Club members have offered for more than a quarter century, it is unfortunate that a beneficial relationship is being jeopardized by what many would see as rigid bureaucracy," Baucus wrote.
"I call on the Forest Service to redouble its efforts to engage the Bitterroot Cross-Country Ski Club to work toward solutions that honor the ingenuity and downright hard work that Club members have dedicated to the Gordon Reese Cabin."