There will soon be one more place to ski in Cache Valley. UPR’s Beth McEvoy has details on the pending arrival of Utah’s 15th ski resort.
The construction site of Cherry Peak Ski Resort sits nestled in the foothills above the small town of Richmond just north of Logan. Developer John Chadwick shows me where ski lifts not yet installed will be as we scurry up the mountain in his loud all-terrain vehicle.
“We’re kind of like the convenient store of ski resorts; close, quick you can be here in just a few minutes and back home. Other ski resorts you have to dedicate a half-day or a whole day, and when you are that convenient you create a lot more skiing than would otherwise happen. We don’t feel like we are going to do anything but add more skiers than has ever occurred in Cache County,” says Chadwick.
Chadwick says the small 200-acre resort will eventually feature three ski lifts and a small lodge with a parking lot equipped for 300 cars. He says they are branding themselves as a teaching mountain.
Developers had wanted to open last fall but after some setbacks Chadwick says the resort will open for Thanksgiving of this year.
“It was actually ten years ago I hiked up here with an Olympic ski coach and he said after skiing one run, ‘you need to build a ski resort’ so that’s really what got it going,” says Chadwick.
John Chadwick’s family has owned the land for more than 40 years. Along with other developers, including Logan Checketts, Chadwick bought the land and began construction last June after a short-lived battle in court.
Dan Miller has lived in Richmond for 15 years. His home sits on the access road to the resort. Miller along with other concerned citizens brought a lawsuit to overturn the resort's permits but ultimately lost. He has been fighting since 2010 and Miller says he’s tired.
“I’m leaving," says Miller. "I can’t live here. I didn’t move to Richmond for this kind of activity.”
Although the resort is entirely on private land, it’s sandwiched between Richmond Wildlife Management Area and the Mount Naomi Wilderness, a popular site for elk and deer. Miller says among several problems he has with the development is the impact it will have on the surrounding wildlife. An issue he says has largely been ignored.
Developer John Chadwick says the clearing and re-vegetation of the slopes will attract more game. Chadwick says he believes Cherry Peak Ski Resort will bring other added bonuses like a rise in property values.
Dan Miller disagrees. “I don’t believe it will be a success and even if it were, the clientele aren’t likely to buy real estate, they aren’t likely to buy things here in town. The clientele is going to be high school kids, night skiing,” says Miller.
Richmond’s Mayor Mike Hall says he’s concerned about wear and tear of city roads from the traffic generated by the resort and future use of city emergency responders that the ski resort might use.
Because Cherry Peak Resort is located outside city limits, Richmond will receive no tax revenue; all tax revenue will go to the county. Hall says the city proposed Cherry Peak set up an office in town so the city could have a little piece of the revenue pie but the idea was rebuffed.
The ski resort sits up in the city’s main watershed. Hall says he’s also concerned about the potential impact the resort could have on the city’s water supply.
But despite his reservation, he wants it to turn out well.
“I hope it turns out very well and is very successful because now that they have the blessing from all the powers that be to have it move forward I would much rather see it be a successful operation than it not be. I think that works out to everyone’s advantage at this point,” says Hall.
Travis Seeholzer of Beaver Mountain has been in the ski business for more than a decade. He says initially Beaver will lose business to Cherry Peak but he is staying positive.
“Maybe people are going to start skiing there. In a way that could benefit us. I think those people eventually are going to want to move to a bigger hill and probably are going to end up at Beaver. But there is no question that there is a limited market share and a limited amount of people in Cache Valley,” says Seeholzer.
With Cherry Peak’s relatively low elevation of 5,800 feet at its base, Seeholzer says he wonders if the site will have sufficient snow for skiing. Cherry Peak resort will use man-made snow but Seeholzer warns about its costliness.
Chadwick says Cherry Peak studies say the area receives 322 inches of annual snow. Seeholzer agrees that if the weather delivers, that’s a good amount of snow for some sweet skiing.
For UPR, I’m Beth McEvoy