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Alms For the Lift: Bogus Basin's Nonprofit Ski Model Stands Alone 

Ski area's 501(c)3 status means new rules/opportunities for fundraising

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As a way to incentivize and publicly recognize those who give, a donor pass program has been established. Any season pass holder who gives a $100 donation will receive a green-colored pass; those contributing $250 will get a blue pass; and those donating $500 or more will be given a black diamond pass. So far approximately 300 individuals have contributed in this manner.

Shirley pointed out that the new Superior lift is just one component of a long-term master development plan Bogus Basin put together 15 years ago to modernize the facility and keep pace with what other resorts offer. With the completion of the new high-speed quad lift, a total of $30 million will have been spent since the plan was adopted.

Now that these upgrades are near completion, the focus is shifting to what is next for Bogus.

"We have to redevelop both base areas ... and covert several other lifts," Shirley said of some key components of future development.

These improvements are based on a market study Bogus conducted a few years ago, asking visitors what projects should be next for completion.

"Chair 3 was an equal priority for folks, along with redevelopment of the Simplot base area and redevelopment of the beginner area. We're listening to the public about what they would like to see done next," Shirley said.

Amid all the excitement of a new lift, there is a downside. For the first time in a very long time, the cost of a season pass is going up, starting next spring. While the exact price has yet to be set, the current cost of $199 will go up to either $229 or $239.

The increase is a change in the direction the resort set in 1998, when it drastically slashed pass prices from $550 to $199, which Anderson said started a ripple effect through the business. The effect was immediate and dramatic--season pass sales skyrocketed from 3,500 the previous year to 19,000.

Those new pass holders needed new equipment, so the season pass price reduction was a boon for Bogus' equipment rental business, too. Resort management asked local equipment retailers to offer a low-cost rental option, but after meeting with staunch resistance, they created the program themselves, offering season-long packages starting at $99.

Bogus management held to the $199 price tag as long as it could, but the reality of rising costs of power, labor and insurance forced the decision. A piece of good news for families with young skiers is that season passes for those ages 7-11 will remain $59.

Even as the first hints of autumn are arriving in the valley, the final touches are being put on the new Superior lift--concrete has been poured, and equipment has been shipped in from Canada and Austria. Load testing will be conducted in November, and everything is on schedule to be ready for the first significant snowfall of the winter.

It won't be long until the temperatures drop, the snow starts accumulating and the slopes at Bogus Basin are packed with multitudes of skiers and snowboarders shredding their way through the powder and down to the base, ready to be whisked to the top of the mountain again on a new high-speed quad lift.

Maybe they should keep some cash in their pocket to drop in the donation box while they're waiting in line.

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