BOISE, Idaho — Deciding whether or not to buy a season pass at Bogus Basin ski area outside Boise might get easier in future years.
Idaho on Tuesday approved a plan by Bogus Basin Recreation Association officials that involves building a water-storage dam and putting in underground pipes to make artificial snow for consistent pre-Christmas openings for skiers and snowboarders.
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and four other members of the Idaho Land Board voted 5-0 to allow the work on land the state sold to the ski area 45 years ago. The sale included a requirement for state approval of erosion control and re-vegetation for significant projects.
“We’re very excited about the development at Bogus Basin,” General Manager Brad Wilson told the Land Board.
Bogus Basin officials have said snowmaking likely wouldn’t happen until the 2019-2020 season. The area draws about 500,000 visitors a year.
“They happen to be a ski resort on the edge of a very arid region,” said Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, a Land Board member and season pass holder at Bogus Basin. “So one of their greatest risks is how much snow they get. If we can eliminate or reduce that risk, they get a better return.”
The Idaho Department of Lands, the state agency that carries out the Land Board’s management decisions, analyzed the Bogus Basin plan and recommended the board approve the project.
The Bogus Basin Recreational Association is a nonprofit that operates on a combination of U.S. Forest Service land and about 640 acres (259 hectares) of its own land. About 300 of those acres was purchased from the state in the 1970s. In all, the ski area occupies about 2,700 acres (1,100 hectares).
The impoundment and water storage would be on land owned by Bogus Basin and hold about 23 million gallons (87 million liters). But part of the snowmaking system would be on Forest Service land, so Bogus Basin is also seeking approval from the federal agency.
“We’re working with them and a third party contractor to complete the environmental review process to authorize snowmaking,” said Stephaney Kerley, a district ranger for the Boise National Forest. She said the review could be done this summer.
The Idaho Land Board’s involvement in the Bogus Basin project was unusual and only needed due to the 1970s deed that included the re-vegetation and erosion clause. It’s not clear why that clause was included by previous Idaho officials.
Typically, the Land Board only focuses on decisions involving the 2.4 million acres of state endowment land that generates money mainly for public schools.