West Lake is a Go!

Friday, February 27, 2015

When I jumped into the GM role in 2005 I was amazed at how many snowmaking water procurement files had accumulated over the years.  There are several cabinets chock full and dating back to the 80's.  There were some "creative" ideas over the years, including Harriman's Reservoir, building storage ponds on Howe Farm and Somerset Reservoir (a lengthy blog for another day.)

In the end, for a variety of reasons, we decided to build a snowmaking pond, West Lake, located south of Haystack off of Coldbrook Rd.  The land we purchased is referred to as the gravel pits.  


In the photo above, you are looking out over the West Lake site towards the west.  The Haystack trails help you gauge proximity to Haystack and Coldbrook Rd.

We started planning for West Lake around 2008 and finally, this week, we started to clear the site. Removing trees in the winter, when there is snow pack, has less environmental impact and makes it easier to drag the trees along the top of the snow.

The clearing operation is very interesting and efficient.  First, the Feller buncher comes in and takes the trees down.  See the attachment below that rapidly cuts the trees down.



2 skidders (JD 548s) with grapples drag the trees to the landing area - see below.


At the landing area, a stationary crane saws off the bottom and separates the wood.  The operator can work the blade from his seat in the crane.  Wood is picked and organized, soft from hard, and then chipped.  The best quality wood is taken out whole.  




Chips are shot into tractor trailers and go to different locations depending on time of day and type of chip.  Some will feed the furnace at our state capital.

The site clearing work will finish up in the next week or two.  Then we wait for snow to melt and mud to dry, before stumping.

We will start building the 120 mgal (12 acres of water surface) pond this spring/summer.


In photo above L to  R:  Laurie Newton, Director of Planning and Permitting, Brent Raymond, Executive Director of the Vermont EB-5 Regional Center and Dick Deutsch, VP Business and Real Estate Development.

On Thursday, the 26th, we went out to the site to make it official, so to speak.  Armed with ribbon and an uber sized set of scissors we conducted a "no frills" ribbon cutting ceremony. The ceremony may have been a bit understated based on the amount of planning, permitting and fund raising that went into this project.  Guess we will have to make up for it with a big party when we actually draw water from West Lake.

When will that be?  We estimate that it will take two summers to build the pond.  So if all goes well and weather is on our side, we could withdraw water for the 2016-17 ski season.

Back at the office I stopped in my tracks as I walked by Tom's door.  Tom has worked at Mount Snow since the 70's and is our attorney.  How cool is that - being a lawyer for a ski area?  Tom has been here for each and every attempt we have made for snowmaking water.  On a few occasions I've heard Tom wonder if he would still be here to see this project come to fruition.  Tom is a world class triathlete and his office is littered with photos, medals, ribbons and other keepsakes from all of his competitions.  I have a feeling that the little chunk of West Lake ribbon will be one of his most cherished.



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