A private citizen effort to reopen the Antelope Butte Ski Area as a nonprofit took a step forward this month, as the recently formed Antelope Butte Foundation met with the National Forest Service to put a hold on action to dismantle what's left of the facility in order for ABF to develop and present their business and fundraising plans to the state.
The Antelope Butte Foundation's goal is to reopen the facility as a non-profit organization. Mark Weitz, who started the foundation with a few others from the Sheridan area, talks about the steps they will take from here.
Closed since 2004, the facility is owned by the federal government as part of the Big Horn National Forest, and several small efforts by developers to purchase the lifts and lodge and reopen the facility since that time have been unsuccessful. Weitz says that this new approach as a nonprofit, will hopefully succeed where those other efforts He talked about a new approach.
As for the response that Weitz mentioned, there has been an enthusiastic one, and the time will come when people can help – like the Third Thursday Festival on Aug 17, where they will be set up to give out information.
Nonprofit ski areas are a hybrid that have been used in attempts to remedy difficulties brought about by changes in the the ski industry, Weitz said. Smaller ski-markets - like the northeastern Wyoming area - have not been able to support a ski area, so the nonprofit's ability to apply for grants and donations is key.
Weitz added that there are other things they would do to generate revenue to support the ski area, including various options allowing outside groups summer use of the facility. He wants to work with the Northern Wyoming Community College District, and Sheridan College to use the facility for educational purposes as well.
In a letter to Weitz and ABF dated July 26, the Sheridan County Commissioners said that they would not be able to support ABF financially in their reopening efforts. Aside from that, Weitz said that he has heard interest from private groups in terms of donations.
Efforts are still in the beginning stages, with renovation of the facility still needing to be contracted and executed if everything goes as planned. Weitz said that if all this happens they would like to have the lifts running and people hitting the slopes by the 2012 ski season. If that can happen, Weitz and the Antelope Butte Foundation will work to make Antelope Butte available to as many people as possible.
For more information on the Antelope Butte Foundation, or to "like" them and receive updated information on their progress, visit their Facebook page.