Congress approves bill for MMSA

mmsaIn a bi-partisan vote of 376 to 2, House Resolution 2157 passed in Congress Tuesday to formalize an agreement between the Forest Service and  Mammoth Mountain Ski Area toward a land exchange that involves close to 21 acres at the Main Lodge.  Congressman Buck McKeon carried the bill to Congress.

McKeon spoke on the floor of Congress, saying that Mammoth Mountain Ski Area provides “between ten and thirty percent of the total employment in Mono County” and hosts an average of 1.3 million visitors each year.  Visitors, McKeon told Congress, that drive the local economy.  He pointed to the Ski Area’s Forest Service Special Use Permit, first received in 1953.  McKeon said, “The base area of the mountain is aging rapidly and is in need of renovation and redevelopment.”  The Congressman said under the terms of the use permit, these renovations are tough to achieve.

To solve that problem, Mammoth Mountain and the Forest Service have worked on a land exchange for the past 14 years.  McKeon’s bill finalizes two steps toward a land exchange agreement in which Mammoth Mountain will provide more than 1,729 acres of land for the public within the Inyo, Plumas, Stanislaus, and Eldorado National Forests in California and money to equalize the values of the exchange.

In December of 2011, Mammoth Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory had testified before a Congressional Subcommittee that the non-federal lands the Ski Area was prepared to trade include the historic Mono Lake-Cunningham parcel.  Other lands include two parcels owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power just outside Forest boundaries in Lone Pine for the Interagency Visitors Center.  Gregory also testified that McKeon’s Bill would allow the Forest Service to accept funds necessary to complete an equal value exchange. The money would be used to acquire future forest lands.

Gregory testified that it is anticipated that the necessary equalization funds could exceed “25% of the value of the federal land to be exchanged.”  McKeon’s bill does not direct the Forest Service to complete the land exchange but, as McKeon said, codifies the payment of funds and the acceptance of LADWP land.

Mammoth Mountain and the Forest Service will still proceed through environmental processes to execute an exchange agreement for completion of the land exchange.  After that, Mammoth Mountain would move ahead with development plans and local planning approvals.

Gregory had earlier stated that carrying out the land exchange would make it possible to address inadequacies at Mammoth Mountain Inn, the Main Lodge building, better lift line situations, circulation, lack of on-site employee housing and other amenities.


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20 Responses to Congress approves bill for MMSA

  1. Ken Warner April 24, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

    You know that if and when development at Main Lodge happens, there will be no more public parking there and all those cars will try to park at Chair 2. That will be a fine mess.

    And how much do you think 25 acres at the Main Lodge area is worth? Nice present for two out of state real estate developers — Fortress Investment Group and Starwood Capital — those corporations are going to make billions from that 25 acre gift of public lands. What are you going to get for it?

    • upthecreek April 24, 2012 at 9:40 pm #


  2. Trouble April 24, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    Ken- corporate America wins again. Our opinion means squat .

    • Ken Warner April 25, 2012 at 9:42 am #

      The winners are not even corporate America.

      Fortress and Starwood are multi-national corporations that have offices all over the World and (no doubt) leave money they earn in the U.S. outside of the U.S. to evade taxes. They are smart people and they don’t give away money.

      If I was them, once the trade was finalized, I’d sell MMSA and it’s holdings including the 25 acres that our Forest Service thinks is worth more than the land it’s getting in return. That would be the way to maximize profit for effort. Why go through the hassle of actual development when you could sell those 25 undeveloped acres to someone else and rake in a huge profit without breaking a sweat? If I put on my Carnac the Magnificent hat I’d say, “Sold in 2016.”

      And here’s an interesting fact, You know that, “…historic Cunningham Parcel…” they make a big deal about MMSA trading for the Main Lodge area? Well in 2004, the Forest Service was thinking about simply condemning that parcel and taking it for the public trust. And the land that is being traded is on the West side of 395 that nobody is ever even going to set foot on and the Cunninhams still own lake front property on the East side of 395 that they still might develop.

      It’s all smoke and mirrors — and the people of Mono County lose again while carpetbaggers take the family jewels and our leaders twiddle their fingers.

      Lastly, how much did good ol’ boy Buck get for his next “reelection campaign”? You can bet he didn’t “carry the bill” for nothing.

      • Ken Warner April 25, 2012 at 10:40 am #

        Ooops! “…our Forest Service thinks is worth more than the land…” should read — :,,,our Forest Service thinks is worth less than the land…”

      • Big AL April 25, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

        Yeah Ken … it sure is .. the carpet bags are set up on the table .. being filled with yet more money ,, you got it!

  3. sierragrl April 25, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    I hope this bill requires transparency on the part of the USFS….ie. I want to know the value assigned to the exchange parcels, each individually, not the ‘package’ amount….and the value of the USFS land to be exchanged. The Shady Rest Tract exchange was a joke as far as values were concerned. Literally, the USFS allowed value to be placed on parcels to be granted to USFS and 3 times higher then what Tanner had JUST paid for the parcels. Then the Shady Rest land was appraised inordinately low. Of course what Tanner did next is just disgusting..he sold it to a developer for a HUGE profit! What a scam Tanner did, and apparently all legal.

  4. esfotoguy April 25, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    oink oink

  5. Rob April 25, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    It’s boarderline coruption

  6. Ken Warner April 25, 2012 at 6:30 pm #


    Do you have some links to the back story of the Shady Rest Tract? I’d like to know more about that. I live close to it and it looks like it should be a park rather than a bunch of crap condos. From what I understand, the developer is actually a consortium of a 137 different people. It’s not maintained or supervised in any way and it is just collecting trash and dog s**t.

    • sierragrl April 25, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

      I read the actual appraisals for the exchange, but didn’t make copies….with I had. I used to live on Shady Rest Lane…best street in Mammoth! and I was friends with Jeff Todd, who tried to watchdog the whole thing, may he rest in peace.

      • Ken Warner April 26, 2012 at 10:43 am #

        Nice place to live.

        If Shady Rest Tract was made a real, maintained and cared for park, the property value of the whole area would double. All of Center St. and Manzanita and all the property on the South side of the tract all the way to Meridian would be prime property because of it would be walking distance to a great park.

        Why can’t they see that? The owners want to put 400 crap condos in there and cut it up with unnecessary roads. It’s just stupid. But then that’s expected from Mammoth community leaders.

  7. joe glotz April 26, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    Ken your description of just collecting trash and dog s**t in Shady Rest Tract applies to nearly every street and trail in Mammoth. The dogs and dog owners have made taking a walk like negotiating a obstacle course.

    • Ken Warner April 26, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

      Tell me about it…. Did you know that another one of the wise things our community leaders did was eliminate the Animal Control Officer (aka dog catcher)?


  8. local skier April 27, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    I don’t see how you could say this is a “gift” to greedy developers… the 25 acres are being traded for “more than 1,729 acres of land for the public within the Inyo, Plumas, Stanislaus, and Eldorado National Forests in California and money (millions!) to equalize the values of the exchange.” If anything it is a gift to the USFS. MMSA planners have worked for 14 years on this exchange, way before Starwood etc was involved, and believe me it has been very thoughtfully and extensively considered every step of the way. If nothing more, it will allow MMSA to upgrade the MM Inn sewer system which has been grossly out of compliance with current standards for years. Perhaps you don’t realize how crucial MM ski area’s success is on the local economy? enough conspiracy theory, support our local ski area!!! I know I do.

    • Ken Warner April 27, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

      Well, good for the USFS and really bad for Mono County and in particular Mammoth Lakes residents.

      Do you have a map showing the exact locations and value of the acres being traded? !729 acres sounds great in blurbs like the one you must have been paid to distribute but if you look at what is gained and lost CLOSELY it won’t look like such a good deal for Mono County or Mammoth Lakes. Most of that land is not in Mono County so how is that going to do us any good?

      The reason MMSA (aka Fortress Investment Group and Starwood Capital) is willing to spend so much time and effort and money on this trade is that they are going to rake in BILLIONS of dollars. The Main Lodge area is probably the most valuable land in Inyo and Mono county and now it will be owned by companies who are not even incorporated in California.

      And those dollars are going to leave the economy of Mono County and in particular Mammoth Lakes and benefit Fortress and Starwood. They don’t spend this kind of time effort and money just to be nice to Mammoth Lakes.

      This is not a conspiracy theory — this is what’s going to happen.

      MMSA will funnel even more visitors out of the Mammoth Lakes economy with more rooms and services at the Main Lodge area. Those visitors would have spent their time and money in the town proper. Now they will just stay up at Main Lodge.

      Same thing happened with The Village. Look at how the town lost business when The Village opened. Look at all the empty store fronts and abandoned buildings and vacant lots that exist now after The Village opened.

      MMSA is in competition with just about every single business in Mammoth Lakes except the gas stations and Von’s. And I would expect MMSA will open a gas station at the Main Lodge or maybe buy one in town and offer discount gas to it’s guests.

      Further, the elimination of generous free parking at the Main Lodge area and converting it to parking for guests of MMSA only will have a huge impact on town locals who can only get up to the mountain for a couple of hours before or after working. With less parking, that pattern will be severely disrupted. And once again, public transportation just doesn’t work for quick trips ANYWHERE in town.

      And if MMSA can work a trade of this magnitude with the USF — why should I believe that they couldn’t work out an arrangement to fix the sewer system? The reason they didn’t fix the sewer system was because they wanted to use that as a bargaining point.

      As for your strawman argument that MMSA was planning this exchange before Starwood bought part of Mammoth — MMSA started this planning when Intrawest bought most of MMSA. Then Intrawest was bought by Fortress and MMSA was sold to the consortium of Fortress and Starwood. And sometime soon, Fortress will be bought by an even bigger hedge fund. Take a look at Fortress’s stock price. They are barely hanging on. They are clearly going to be taken over by someone you never even heard of.

      How can you even suggest that MMSA is a local ski area when it is owned by multi-national hedge funds and property development companies?

      Support our local ski area? HA! More like give your money to multi-national corporations that don’t give a damn about Mammoth Lakes or the people who live and work in Mono County.

      Up next, the Downtown Neighborhood Redevelopment plan which will devastate every existing business in Mammoth Lakes.

    • Ken Warner April 27, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

      …and if all MMSA wants to do is upgrade the sewer system — great! Just don’t let out of state multi-national developers take possession of public land — my land, your land, everybody’s land. USFS should keep the land and give permission to develop as if the land was owned. But keep the land. Give a 100 year lease but keep the land. Give the 100 year lease in exchange for those 1729 acres of apparently worthless land — if there has to be millions of dollars added to equal the value of the 25 acres at Main Lodge those 1729 acres really can’t be worth very much.

      Why wouldn’t that work? Don’t require MMSA to give millions of dollars to equalize value. Just keep the land and in exchange for those 1729 acres, give a 100 year lease with full permission to develop with renewal options. Or is the intention to resell those 25 acres as soon as possible?

      Once the land at Main Lodge is gone from the public trust, it’s gone forever — owned most likely by foreign corporations because that’s where all the money is.

      This is a bad deal for the American public. And one wonders why Congressman McKeon supports this deal.

      • alice April 30, 2014 at 9:06 am #

        inyo county is going to have lots to say about this. They are losing private land so that the FS can own its office space. The percentage of taxable private land in Inyo County is 2%.

        The question for us in June Lake is will the mountain be open next year or was this smoke and mirrors. Stay tuned. CEQA takes a while and we’ll be there if promises aren’t kept.

        • Ken Warner April 30, 2014 at 11:49 am #

          This will be interesting to watch Starwood and Fortress taking the money and running. Who will be the next owners? I’m betting on one of the Gulf Arab countries.

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