Saddleback Ski Resort, located in the town of Rangeley in western Maine, has been closed due to lack of funds for over a year now. In the summer of 2015 owners Irene and Bill Berry announced that a $3 million chairlift upgrade was required for the existing Royal Coachman, a 50 year old double chair, or the resort would shut down indefinitely. When funds were not met and a sale of the resort fell through, the mountain did not open for the 15/16 winter season and has remained closed since.
“Saddleback, Maine’s third-largest ski resort, sat idle last winter after the Berrys were unable to come up with financing to purchase a chairlift that they said was needed to keep the resort open. Saddleback drew between 80,000 and 100,000 skiers in its last few seasons of operation, according to the Berrys, and with 350 employees had been the third-largest employer in Franklin County during the winter.”
–The Portland Press Herald
Now, the Saddleback Mountain Foundation has reached an agreement to purchase the resort and its assets from the Berrys. The Saddleback Mountain Foundation, which is a newly formed nonprofit organization comprised of community businesses and pass-holders alike, wish to keep this gem nestled in Maine’s High Peaks open and operational. The current deal will cost $6 million in total, $2.2 million cash at closing along with an owner financed loan by the Berry’s for the remaining $3.8 million.
Peter Stein, chairman of the Saddleback Mountain Foundation, and the group plan on raising $4 million from the public in order to fund the down payment for purchase and operating costs for the first year. Their has been no deadline set to raise the money which could mean the resort will remain closed for this season, but this approval of sale is a big step in the right direction. The foundation reached out to the community this summer and received pledge commitments for a total of $5 million from people interested in keeping the resort open.
The Saddleback Mountain Foundation has also been working with the Trust for Public Lands and the New England Forestry Foundation who are interested in purchasing 3,249 acres surrounding the ski resort which currently belong to the Berrys as well. The Appalachian Trail runs through this land and it is in the interest of all parties to preserve it as conservation land. The Berrys have verbally agreed on the sale but no purchase price has been released.
“This is the coming together of the benefits, of land conservation, community economic development and community well-being. Conservation today is more than dollars and acres, our work is about focusing the outcomes of land conservation to benefit people and communities.”
–Wolf Tone, Maine state director for the Trust for Public Land.
Saddleback sees over 200″ of snow annually with 1,600 vertical feet and 220 skiable acres of incredible glades and killer groomers. Top that with stunning backdrops of Rangeley lakes and the surrounding High Peaks region and it makes for a surreal experience. If you wish to participate or contribute to the purchase, visit the Saddleback Mountain Foundation and contact them to learn more!