- Associated Press - Monday, April 17, 2017

READSBORO, Vt. (AP) - A revival of trails at the historic Dutch Hill Ski Area site for backcountry and cross-country skiing will begin this year as part of a multi-faceted, multiyear U.S. Forest Service project.

“There is a lot of enthusiasm for this,” said Bill Beattie, of nearby Clarksburg, Mass., who is president of the newly formed Dutch Hill Association of Skiers and Hikers (DHASH).

The group, which recently incorporated and was accepted as a chapter of the Catamount Trail Association, will organize a volunteer effort to revive the ski trails, many of which are at least partly overgrown 32 years after Dutch Hill ceased operations in 1985.

A small downhill area off Route 100 in the Heartwellville section of Readsboro, which had rope tows, a T-Bar and a J-Bar but no chair lifts, had opened in 1945. The lift equipment is no longer in place on what is now Forest Service land.

Beattie said the trail work could also include opening new trail sections, but that will require Forest Service review and approvals. He said the area will be for backcountry alpine skiing, which involves walking up on skis with climbing skins; cross-country trails and opportunities for sledding. In the warmer seasons, he said, the area is a great place for hiking and offers some spectacular views.

About 30 people are expected to volunteer, Beattie said, but more are welcome. He said information on how to become involved and other announcements will be posted on the Friends of Dutch Hill Ski Area Facebook site, pending a planned DHASH website.

“We are very excited,” he said, adding that the planning process has been a slow one, “but we wanted to take the time to organize and do this right. We have a strong advisory group and a very competent team.”

Greg Maino, communications and events director with the Catamount Trail Association, said, “We’re super excited to welcome DHASH into our family of backcountry chapters. The potential in that area is awesome, and here at the CTA discussion about what we can do to better support our chapters is a daily discussion. These are exciting times here in Vermont, and we can wait to see how things develop.”

David Francomb, Manchester District ranger for the Green Mountain National Forest, said several other projects among those planned over a five- to seven-year period also are expected to begin this year. Those include putting out to bid sales of timber in Readsboro and Stamford, on the 416-acre Camp Casino parcel and the 328-acre Maltese site, respectively.

Bids on timber also will be sought on two forest parcels in 2018 as part of what is known as the Forest Service’s South of Route 9 Integrated Resource Project for logging, trail work and other initiatives spaced over some 67,000 acres in six Southern Vermont towns. The towns involved are Readsboro, Stamford, Whitingham, Pownal, Woodford and Bennington.

Also being considered this year is timber stand improvement for oak regeneration in the Dome area of Pownal, and possibly trail maintenance and restoration work by a Vermont Youth Conservation Crew along the Dome and Agawon Trails.

The Forest Service will be working in cooperation with a number of groups, such as trail organizations and recreation groups. Those include the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers, the Bennington Area Trail System, the Vermont All-Terrain Sportsman Association and the Catamount Trail Association.

“I am in the process of scheduling visits with the select boards in these towns to highlight the work we will be implementing,” Francomb said.

Planned projects include soil and water quality improvements, fish and wildlife habitat enhancement; improvements to existing hiking or vehicle trails or to shelters and trailhead parking sites; forest bridge work; relocation of Seth Warner Shelter on the Long Trail/Appalachian Trail; new trail marking and trail section relocations.

The logging projects will, like other timber projects in the Green Mountain National Forest, provide some of the funding for work on the other projects.






Information from: Bennington Banner, https://www.benningtonbanner.com

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