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Almost Heaven Mountain Resort Update
By John Sherwood, DCSki Columnist
January 21, 2006

In September 2003, DCSki reported on a new proposed ski area development in the Laneville-Dry Fork area of Randolph County, West Virginia called Almost Heaven. If built, the new resort would offer the biggest vertical in the Mid-Atlantic region (over 2,000 feet), and would be comparable in size to many resorts in New England.

Last year, the US Forest Service solicited comments on four alternative new management plans for the Monongahela National Forest. The developer of the potential new resort, Bill Bright, was among 15,000 people who submitted letters or signed petitions expressing an opinion. A CD that includes all of the letters is available upon request from the Monongahela National Forest office in Elkins, West Virginia. In his letter to Mr. Clyde Thompson, Supervisor of the National Forest, Bright reveals that Almost Heaven will offer a “range of winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, and cross country skiing” as well as warm weather activities such as “golf, biking, and hiking.” In addition to day visitors, “Almost Heaven will attract many lifestyle visitors who will purchase and build second homes on the project.”

He also states that the new resort will bring many economic benefits to the state of West Virginia such as new jobs and increased tax revenues, while being “built in a way to preserve and enhance the environmental beauty of West Virginia.” He also admits to having spent over $3,000,000 on the project thus far, with “many hundreds of millions of dollars” being spent by the time it is finished.

Mr. Bright opposes two parts of the new forest plan for the Monongahela National Forest: a wilderness designation for the Roaring Plains and the expansion of the Otter Creek Wilderness to incorporate a portion of the Dry Fork stream.

The Roaring Plains shares a three mile boundary with the proposed new resort. Bright is concerned that a wilderness status for it would restrict mechanized fire control techniques on proposed Almost Heaven lands. The 1964 Wilderness Act specifies that “no permanent habitations or human habitation is permitted” on land designated as wilderness. In short, it would restrict the construction of roads for fire control. “The restrictions a Wilderness designation would place on mechanized fire control will needlessly and negligently threaten the substantial investments and safety of our development and its patrons,” Bright argues.

With regard to the expansion of the Otter Creek Wilderness, Mr. Bright worries that it may cause the Dry Fork to be designated as a “Tier 3.0 stream.”

“If the stream classification is affected by expansion of Otter Creek Wilderness, there would be serious unintended consequences on the approximately 80,000 acres of private property that lie within the Dry Fork watershed,” he writes. Ski resorts require significant amounts of water for snowmaking and a Tier 3.0 regulation for that stream might drastically curtail its use by the resort.

From this letter, it is clear that Mr. Bright has invested a significant amount of money in the new resort, but may be holding off on development for now until Monongahela National Forest finalizes its plans for Roaring Plains and Otter Creek.

In addition to submitting his letter to the Forest Supervisor of the Monongahela National Forest, Mr. Bright sent copies to West Virginia politicians including Senators Byrd and Rockefeller, Congresswoman Shelley Capito, Congressmen Alan Mollohan and Nick Rahall, and Governor Joe Manchin.

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Andy/fishnski
8 years ago
Thanks for keeping an eye out for any developements on this matter Mr. Sherwood. Yeh or nay..good or bad I say HELLL YEHHH..Keep hope alive! I’m betting the WV Gov’t will support Mr. Bright on this venture & since there is allready an investment made toward this project it wouldn’t make sense to just build homes & a golf course Ect…without getting the ski slopes up & running.The back country up above the resort will be an awesome playground for the nordic enthusiests…allthough snowmobiling will not be one of the activities i would guess.Mr. Bright will get his fire roads & his access to water…see ya on the slopes!!
JohnL
8 years ago
Any estimates for the yearly water use for a ski area the size of Almost Heaven versus the water use for an 18 hole or 36 hole golf course?
Gorilla
8 years ago
I posted a topo map that includes Mount Porte Crayon on my website that you people may be interested in. The mountain looks pretty nice as far as ski terrain goes. I just hope the area retains some of its wild character if it’s developed and that limited structures are built on the summit.

http://gorillasadventures.blogspot.com/2005/12/mount-porte-crayon-4770-ski-area.html
Gorilla
8 years ago
…also, if I see any snowmobilers on the mountain, I just may start training for the 2010 biathalon early with ‘bilers’ pea-brains as the targets.
andy
8 years ago
Hey Gorilla, I posted your map on this site & it created a firestorm…CK out “ski area debate” in the archives! The map could only be seen for a short while & then something or someone pulled the plug on it.Could you repost it for us? The only other problem is whether or not the proposed area is the northface flatrock run area or the nw face with the actual 4770’ MPC summit. We were always led to believe that it was to be the NW face,although would they call that part of the mountain the Lanesville/Dryfork area? Lanesville is over at the North facing side……
Gorilla
8 years ago
I assumed that the land to be developed into “almost heaven” (what a stupid name) was in the flatrock run drainage (and headwall) just because it looked like the best area for steeps and snow retention. Also, it looks like the sub-summit is already devoid of trees so it would be less intrusive to that area and alpine vegetation if the lifts stopped there.

Also, Andy, I totally missed the firestorm and tried to find the archives, but can’t. A little help?
DCSki Reader
8 years ago
A new ski resort with 2000’ vertical in the area would be excellent for skiers and boarders. It would also be nice to have a ski resort in the area where the owners and managers actually know what is going on in the industry and have some half decent business sence.

One thing is for sure- as soon as it opens your going to see a huge exodus of employees as well as customers from Canaan and T-line to Almost Heaven. Everyone I know working at these two places would jump ship in a heart beat, and I imagine a good number of customers would do the same or atleast be spending less time at t-line and canaan-it would be hard not to with an extra 1000 vertical and state of the art infrastucture and the possibility of actually working for owners who know about the business they are running and the product they are offering.

Almost Heaven if it ever comes about will sink t-line and canaan if they don’t get with the times, start making some decisions with more ski industry foresight, start making appropriate investments, develope better marketing strategies, and start to keep their competition in mind or atleast try to be competitive.
andy
8 years ago
Mr. Gorilla, is your 1st name Harry?….Sorry i couln’t resist..The original big bang came when John Sherwood originally broke the story.This Dominated DCSKI for days..maybe weeks. Then I found your web site & posted under an alias of “Home Biscuit” Your ski area debate. This created another flareup. I just stepped in the house real Quick & have to rush back to work…Can anybody out there help mr Gorilla Find the 2 Threads? PS there is a lack of response to this latest post because of DCSKI Burnout on the issue!
John Sherwood
8 years ago
Andy,

I know the map you are talking about. I think it was posted by someone in the forum. You might do some searches there.

John
Ed
8 years ago
I have been salivating over the prospect of real skiing this close to DC since the first article was published in ‘03. Does anyone have any information as to when this dream ski area may become a reality? On a side note, construction of this resort may actually improve business at Timberline and Canaan. A resort this size will be a true destination resort which families may well visit for as long as a week at a time. Given Porte Crayon’s proximity to Canaan and Timberline, visitors to the area, especially beginners to whom mountain size doesn’t really matter, may well end up visiting the smaller mountains for at least part of their trip. Snowshoe is the ski area that would really suffer if this new area is built. Intrawest has invested so much in that mountain (mostly on condos and not on skiing), but who in their right mind would continue to drive the extra hour and a half to Snowshoe (which has only two trails with 1500 vertical while all the rest can’t be more than 800 - the size of Canaan) when Mt. Porte Crayon would offer over 2000 vertical feet just 3 hours from DC? People on the other comment board were saying Porte Crayon might have as much as 2500 vertical, which would give it some of the longest runs on the entire east coast!
cherryman
8 years ago
Gorilla, your design may be functionally sound but you are desinging in the wrong location. Mr. Bright owns land further to the west on the other side of Canaan Crossing, which makes your drawings obsolete.
cherryman
8 years ago
Does anyone know when the Monongahela National Forest finalizes its plans? I think its April?
Porte Crayon
7 years ago
As nice as I can be all you skiers Stink!
The other WV ski resorts do not run at maxium capacity and you want to scar WV and the East coast highest elevated plateau for a 2200’ verticle. Kiss my you know what!
There is not enough water from the “Dry” Fork and the Red Creek to support snow making.
The people of Canaan Valley and the surrounding area do not want this ski resort.
There are at least five endangered species on Porte Crayon that will prevent this from being built.
West Virgina does not need more out of state snotty stuck up people who could care less about WV.
PC
Porte Crayon
7 years ago
As nice as I can be all you skiers Stink!
The other WV ski resorts do not run at maxium capacity and you want to scar WV and the East coast highest elevated plateau for a 2200’ verticle. Kiss my you know what!
There is not enough water from the “Dry” Fork and the Red Creek to support snow making.
The people of Canaan Valley and the surrounding area do not want this ski resort.
There are at least five endangered species on Porte Crayon that will prevent this from being built.
West Virgina does not need more out of state snotty stuck up people who could care less about WV.
PC
gatkinso
7 years ago
PC - my family and friends from the area are happy at the thought of more tourist $ and employment opportunities.

Speak for yourself, b/c your opinion is not universal.

BRING ON ALMOST HEAVEN!
habiman
7 years ago
I just hiked Porte Crayon today (Aug. 19, 2006) and the streams are so low that even the thought of using them for snowmaking is absurd. If you check the climatologial data for this area you will see that Porte Crayon, due to its locationj receives far less precipitation, in the form of snow, than Snowshoe, making it much more dependent upon snowmaking, which means sucking up groundwater. In addition, if you throw in the amount of water necessary for maintaining an upscale golfcourse, you’re talking about a major impact on the watershed. Why do you think they call it Dry Fork?
Andy
7 years ago
Habib… Where are your facts? Where do you get your weather obs? Everyone I talk to up there cannot wait for the ski area to be built. Bill Bright who leads the charge has said that the obs that they have observed on the Mtn have been very encouraging.I just cked this months rainfall amounts for the area & it shows that they are in a drought….way below normal…no wonder the streams look low…Having a place within a great view of Mt Porte Crayon I can tell you & others that (That is one hell of a SNOWY Mtn!!) Don’t believe all the neg hype people..Build the best Mtn West Va has to offer & let the rest of the land go to Bamby hunters & Granola Crunching hikers(all 15 of them that hike this mtn). Let thousands of hard working tax paying americans enjoy an envirementaly safe ski area!….Lets Make West Va proud to be a real MTN & ski State!!
jonjon
7 years ago
It has been exceptionally dry up this way (until today’s almost two inches), so yes, of course the streams are running low. I also think that there is probably more snow that falls at the peak of Pt. Crayon than the peak at Snowshoe (similar elevation, farther north, person observations and stories of locals).

I would love to see a well planned resort come of Mt. Porte Crayon, although I believe the condos, etc. should be at the bottom of the mountain, not at the peak.

By the way, does anyone know what name Mr. Bright is purchasing the land/options under? I’m going to Randolph County to do some title exams soon and I wanted to take a look to see if there has been any new transactions. Last time I went I looked under Almost Heaven and didn’t find anything.
JimK
7 years ago
jonjon, look johnfmh up in DCSki user directory and send him a PM on your question. He might know.
Regards, JimK
John Sherwood
7 years ago
From my research, Porte Crayon definitely receives less precipitation than Canaan Valley. I don’t know how it compares with Snowshoe.

Another big issue is wind. Even if a resort developed enough reservoirs to hold the water necessary to cover ski trails on that mountain with snow, the wind at the top is brutal. It’s like Sugarloaf in Maine—it would be windswept boiler plate on top for much of the season.
John Sherwood
7 years ago
Given the ongoing collapse in the housing market, I sort of think MPC’s chances of being developed are getting dimmer and dimmer by the day. What do other people think? I know Andy is still optimistic. Furthermore, there still a lot of land being developed for second homes in the CV so maybe this collapse has not hit WV yet…We’ll see.
Andy
7 years ago
Mr Sherwood with all due respect…Where do you get your Info? That is an awfully BOLD statement that MPC DEFINITLEY gets less snow than Canaan! The Mtn would be a boiler plate from the intense wind you say.Now..my research has MPC getting more snow than any MTN in the region…Including Snowshoe. My research also shows that with the lay of the surounding mtn’s the wind is deflected to a reasonable degree…except at the very summit. You know what it does at the top of Timberline…It blows HARD…you cannot escape that ..anywhere! I have been told that the snow on the main Bowl really lays down & stays. The mountain holds its snow! My research comes from years of studying the mtn myself talking to locals in the know…& as far as the Mountain bieng the snowiest in the region, That comes from Chip Chase of Whitegrass! I also heard a radio interview of Bill Bright who claimed that the weather instruments that they had placed on the Mtn had come back with very positive data. I have always respected your responsable journalisim but i am puzzled at the way you are so quick to lash out & just put down every aspect of this mtn & potential….I know you don’t want this mtn developed..you have your reasons…But the mtn is what it is…& not what you say it is…thank you for your support!
John Sherwood
7 years ago
Andy:

We’ll just have to wait for Bright to publish his data. My source is the Friends of the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge’s newsletter, which publishes a weather analysis of the region every issue called Weatherdoodle. That segment is based on data compiled by NOAA. Your source, by comparison, is purely annecdotal: it’s based on your own observations combined with local gossip and hearsay.

In any event, I don’t think weather issues will kill the project. Rather, it will be the effects of a declining housing market.
No
7 years ago
There should not be a ski resort built on Mount point crayon. I along with my family members hunt there all through the fall and winter.It would be a hard fight for Bright to get all the land, such as he has already he only has about 500 acers at the bottom of the mountain. The mountain provides more to hunters than it ever would to skies. Yea, i do ski myself but why have 3 ski resorts right there within 15 minutes. It’s crazy. Besides the wind on top is so fast it would not be fit for skiing. So, everyone should get there hopes down, if they have been workin gon getting it since 2003 there no going to get it know. Plus they cant log in there because there are endangered species such as: the Northern Flying squirrel, northeastern night bat, and the spotted salamander.
andy
7 years ago
Hey Mr. No, would you let me hunt there too? I would just kill for some smoked Salamander!
andy
7 years ago
You know mr. No, I wouldn’t blame you for not letting me hunt on your land…after all, you all got the land after a hard fight from the local Indian tribes.The land is deservadly yours forever…hunt your hearts out. I just wish the hundreds of thousonds of us that like to ski locally could have a mountain of that caliber to ski on. Too bad so sad I guess…Too windy at the summit anyway..that makes me feel better…I guess West va will always be known as a suck ass place to ski! Hey Timberline will seem bigger & bigger as I get older…thats great! Think positive! Anyway I figured that it would be too much to ask you all to give up a couple of Bamby for the pleasure of of us city folks…happy hunting jethro,Pa & Mr. No!
PorteCrayon
7 years ago
Andy it obviously snows on the top of the mountain but at the lower elevations you will need snow making and where is the water going to come from? The Dry Fork? Red Creek?
You would need to build a reservoir and I can tell you there is not enough room nor are the builders going to be allowed(Permits from WVDNR Water Resources) to Damm Red Creek and/or the Dry Fork.
With or with out a drought there will never be enough water. For thirty years I have been backpacking the headwaters of all branches and forks of the Red Creek and I know you will never have enough water for what is proposed!
Andy you want to ski locally? Well you do not need to build a new ski resort on the flanks of the East Coast highest elevated plateau just go to Timberline,or Canaan Valley! Support your local bussiness!
Andy remember there is no other Mountain like Porte Crayon and the surrounding plateau anywhere else in West Virginia or the East Coast so do you really think it is necessary to develope and destroy this West Virginia treasure for a ski resort which at best will be used FOUR months out of the year?
Gatkinso you may want a new ski resort but there are many who do not. Go work at Timberline or Canaan Valley if you need employment!
Gatkinso you are correct that not everyone support my view but I can promise you know one will fight harder to keep Porte Crayon free of development.
It is bad enough we have you ski bums on one end of the mountain trying to destroy it while north on the Allegheny Front we have more developers trying to build turbine wind farms.
Look here I am not against either but you are looking to build and develope on the wrong mountain.
Gorilla
6 years ago
I am torn by the prospect of the development of the this mountain. Timberline sucks. Canaan Valley sucks harder. Snowshoe sucks hardest. But the environmentalist in me says that we need to preserve these last remaining places where tree-hugging, dirt-eaters (and wildlife) can exist without Mr. Deep-pocket Deuschbag ruining it by building as many condos as he can build so he can further enrich himself (the skiing is just the attraction, the condos are not only the money maker, but the real environmental offender).

So the 51% percent of me says no to building this mountain. Now…let’s invade Iran (and Canada too).
DCSki Reader
5 years ago
Found this article under most popular articles section and seems like there has been a lot of talk about this potential resort area and how great the skiing and conditions are. Has anyone actually hiked and ski’d on this terrain or is it’s potential “greatness” just hypothetical or a pipe dream?
Hike and Ski
5 years ago
Having hiked and skied in this area for years. There is just not enough water. Even if you did take water from Dry Fork or Red Creek, the anglers would blow up (See trout unlimited) And while it seems as though this would be a great place for a resort. I cannot see how it would/could be any different from Snowshoe by the time all the development is said and done. I say leave this area to the hikers, hunters and fisherman.
fishnandy
5 years ago
That mountain is private property..STAY OUT!!….Drowned salamanders are washing down the mountain as I write!
native
5 years ago
Debated whether or not to update this subject and end the drama - the comments have been very interesting. Almost Heaven actually purchased two tracts at the base of the mountain. The three additional tracts needed were not purchased. Two of the landowners would not sell. Almost Heaven will sell the two tracts when favorable land prices return. WV is a scenic wonder, and this area, in my opinion, tops the list. The landowners that did not sell realize this and do not bow to the almighty dollar. God bless them for preserving His creation.
Snowcat got your tongue?
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