Los Alamos County Administrator Responds to Potential Closure of Pajarito Mountain

Harrry Burgess


Los Alamos County was contacted this past week by the Board of Directors (Los Alamos Ski Club) regarding their interest in making a change in ownership and operations due to their current financial situation. After our conversations, the Board reached a decision recommending that they transfer their assets to the County. Their recommendation will be put to a vote of their membership on Feb. 4.

Financial concerns regarding the operation of Pajarito Mountain are not new for any of us; our staff has been working with the Board of Directors and General Manager on possible development opportunities and enhancements for several months. One of the items that had been under consideration was to hire a third party manager for the ski resort. Skiing at Pajarito Mountain is a part of our history; it is a delight for local residents and tourists alike. Yet everyone who lives in northern New Mexico can readily see the impacts of this multi-year drought on our local landscape, and it is especially hard for Pajarito Mountain as they must rely on snowfall that has been elusive for years.

This is not a decision that can be made lightly. As the Council considers the potential transfer, they will need to consider the opportunity as well as financial liabilities associated with this idea, especially in light of current budget concerns and the long term investment that would be needed to take on facility management, staffing, maintenance and marketing of Pajarito Mountain. With uncertainties that still lie ahead with federal budgets funding our largest employer and revenue source, LANL, the Council will have much to consider before reaching a decision. I have already met with department directors to begin asking questions about how we might address items related to operating the ski resort, but this is a process that will take some time and research. We are just beginning to assemble the information that we will need to provide to the Council for consideration, and public input will be an important part of the process.

We appreciate the Board’s candor and desire to include us in exploring options that might resolve their challenging financial situation to keep Pajarito Mountain part of our history. It is an important part of Los Alamos, and to that end I know that the Council will be working with County Staff, the Board and its membership to seek options to keep the facility open.