Big Rock Mountain, a small, 4 lift ski mountain in Mars Hill, Maine, is set to receive $2.5 million in federal funds via the American Rescue Plan, according to Maine Public. The funds, which come from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, will be used for both lift improvements and an increase in snowmaking capabilities.
The mountain, which was purchased by a non-profit organization in 2013 to avoid closure, currently sees a typical 20,000-24,000 visitors in a year. The improvements made possible by the federal funds, as well as the newly opened Canadian border (the mountain sits only a little more than a mile from Canada), will hopefully increase that number.
“The project’s really focusing on better supporting our local community but also building our outreach and our potential market to western New Brunswick, Bangor and farther south.” – Mike Chasse, non-profit board of directors member, according to Maine Public
Specifically, the funding will be used to replace one older chair lift and quadruple the mountains snowmaking capabilities while keeping lift ticket prices as low as possible. Day passes currently cost $45 for adults and $35 for students (ages 5-17). While the cost of the upcoming season pass is unavailable on the website, the 2021-22 season pass cost $420.
“By upgrading the chair lift and snowmaking, we’re going to be able to increase the length of the season, market Big Rock as the destination family ski resort, for at least the northern half of the state, and better secure the mountain to compete with some of the larger resorts down south.” – Mike Chasse
These days, I’m not skiing many smaller mountains, but, with cheap passes, they are an absolutely necessity to the sport. Growing up in Maine, I knew tons of people who learned to ski at these smaller mountains, and they’re a great way to get into the sport. Going to college in Colorado, on the other hand, I met many people who wanted to learn but were blocked by the high prices of day passes and general gear. With access to a mountain with $45 day passes and a $25 rental package, that price barrier is definitely a lot easier to get over. If we want skiing to grow and continue to be popular, we need to fund and support small mountains like Big Rock to ensure that the sport can be accessible, no doubt about it.
Image Credit: Big Rock on Instagram