The Friends of Snow King are scrambling to save their ski hill in the next three months. Snow King Resort announced in December that it could no longer afford to float the ski area operation and that Jackson Hole locals needed to pony up a solution by May 1.

Jackson Hole is threatened with losing what is affectionately known as the Town Hill, a 71-year-old ski area where many locals took their first turns and the home training slope for Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club. The ski hill with three lifts, tubing operation, and ice rink are on the chopping block at Snow King Resort, aiming to divest itself of the financial burden and reduce its operation to the hotel and convention business.

The Community Foundation of Jackson Hole stepped in, creating the Friends of Snow King special projects fund to help with financing research for options. "Snow King has been in existence for a very long time," Katharine Conover, president of the foundation, told OnTheSnow. "It has a lot of history and love attached to it. We'd love to see this asset preserved."

The Friends of Snow King are examining different nonprofit ski area models around the country as a solution, assessing current costs of running the ski area, and looking at current leases with the Forest Service and town. Ownership by the town is a possibility, too. "Unlike other nonprofit ski areas around the country, Snow King is next to a world class mountain," Conover pointed out, referring to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. "So we have a different set of needs."

The foundation is collecting funds right now to help solely with research costs, not purchasing the resort or buying the Forest Service permit. "The fund is to help move the investigation forward," said Conover. "There will be legal fees associated with this and perhaps other consulting help needed. When the Friends of Snow King have a better idea about what the possibilities are for Snow King's long term viability, then that may change."

Those looking to contribute to the Friends of Snow King may do so through the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole. Donations to the special project fund should be earmarked for "Friends of Snow King" and be sent to Community Foundation of Jackson Hole, P.O. Box 574, Jackson, WY 83001.