Court stops Mt. Ashland expansion

The Mount Ashland Association's plan to clear 70 acres of trees in Ashland's watershed to make room for an expanded ski area has been halted by a court injunction.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday found in favor of environmental groups who argued the cutting of the trees would degrade Ashland's water quality by damaging the watershed and ruin habitat for species such as the Pacific fisher.

"The injunction indicates the plaintiffs have a strong case," said Tom Dimitre, chairman of the Rogue Group Sierra Club in a news release. "MAA should reconsider continuing this long-running controversy now that there is a strong prospect the project will ultimately be denied."

Dimitre went on to say that environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and the National Center for Conservation Science and Policy (formerly Headwaters) are willing to discuss alternative expansion proposals that would "protect sensitive environmental values."

The ski area dropped out of mediation sessions with the city of Ashland before an agreement could be reached for moving ahead with plans to clear 16 new ski trails, build two new chairlifts and add space for about 200 cars to the parking area.

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