Dakota Ridge was back in business on Jan. 11, but unseasonably warm temperatures and rain have kept the snow base down and created some wet conditions.
“What really does it is the rain,” parks planning coordinator Sam Adams said Tuesday. “That’s how you diminish the snowpack — with the rain.”
Adams said the plateau received heavy snowfall on the weekend, but by Tuesday the snow base was back to 32 centimetres (13 inches) with temperatures two degrees above freezing.
“It’s jumping around a little, to say the least,” he said.
Despite the less-than-perfect conditions, the reopening has drawn healthy numbers of visitors, Adams said.
“People were up on the weekend and people have been coming up all week, and we’re happy with that,” he said. “We have to roll with the punches here.”
On the cross-country trail system, Yellow Cedar had been closed after an ice bridge constructed over running water melted, but was open Tuesday, along with Squamish Loop, Hemlock Loop, Sechelt Main, Chickadee and the newly renamed Blueberry.
Two marked snowshoe trails and the sled hill were also open, with the hill drawing lots of families over the weekend, Adams said.
“It’s pretty nice, and we’re getting excited about Family Day (Feb. 10) when we’ll make it a free day at Dakota Ridge.”
Visitors are advised to check the Dakota Ridge Facebook page for the latest conditions at www.facebook.com/Dakota.SCRD. As a general rule, Adams said, Dakota Ridge is 5 C colder than lower elevations.
The recreation site opened for two days just prior to Christmas, but was shut down due to insufficient snow.
Unlike some of the major ski hills in the province, there have been no staff layoffs as a result of the slow start to the season.
“Crews have other projects they can go to that are outside the scope of Dakota Ridge,” Adams said.
And while local businesses that are geared to winter recreation have felt an impact, he added, the slowdown has meant cost savings in the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) parks budget.
As an example, the SCRD spent $15,000 in December 2012 on road plowing, while last December the cost was $2,000.
“There was some money saved,” Adams affirmed.