Idaho's Tamarack Resort is on the countdown to its resurrection Dec. 20 when the lifts are scheduled to turn for the first time in 21 months. Re-opening the resort brings employment to a town sunk in recession and reduced lift ticket rates in a price conscious time.

"There's such a huge vibe up there," Doug Dvorak, board member for Tamarack Municipal Association (TMA), told OnTheSnow. TMA is the group of property owners that pushed ahead to re-open the ski area this winter while the ski area owner wrestles with the bankruptcy court. "Homeowners have come together to get this to happen. It's such a monumental undertaking," he added. "We started three months ago with no one else doing anything."

The group vaulted over one big hurdle to re-opening with the state land board. TMA and Credit Suisse, the company that foreclosed on the resort, paid around $480,000 for the lease to cover running the ski area through 2011.

The last hurdle awaiting the group before opening day is getting the okay from the judge to run the resort. "I'd say we have a 95 percent chance of a positive decision by then," said Dvorak.

TMA is operating the resort in the interim until a buyer can take over. In late November, Green Valley Holdings, a local group from Boise 90 miles south of the resort, made a $40 million offer to buy the resort. The Pelorus Group based in Salt Lake City also made an offer in August to purchase the resort for $42 million. Several other potential buyers have also made offers, but the decision to sell rests with majority owner J.P. Boespflug as he faces the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. "As the debtor in possession, he is in control of the sale process while in Chapter 11," said Dvorak. "If the process moves to Chapter 7, the court can decide the sale."

Meanwhile, the homeowners hired staff to operate the resort with the lifts scheduled to run Thursdays through Sundays, plus holidays. "We're creating 65 jobs in a valley of 8,000 people with 30 percent unemployment," said Dvorak. TMA plans to run five of the seven lifts, including one to the summit, and operate two restaurant-style bars.

The countdown is on for opening day. "The safety and lift inspections are done, and the snow is unbelievable," said Dvorak. "Everybody's excited to ski by the price point in a recession, and the local hotel and restaurant industries that will be supported." Tamarack, like most of Idaho, has seen a boon of early season snow. Season passes are selling for $199 and fully-refundable if the resort cannot open. Daily lift tickets cost $46 for adults and $22 for youth. Both are available for purchase online.

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