The problems at BK are not something to take lightly.
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(Anonymous)
October 25, 2003
John L, a sincere discussion of some concerns about BK is not "yapping". Also, BK sets within the Chesapeake Bay watershed and part of the ski slopes are on park property. A solution to SOME of the problems there would be to 1) Install waterbars on all of the ski slopes (nearly all ski areas in North America have them to prevent erosion). 2) Fill in the deep gullies that have formed as a result of the heavy spring and summer rains. 3) seed the ski slopes. 4) Remove the slash piles (logging waste) out of the glades (logged areas). 5) Remove the thousands of large stumps with stump grinding equipment. 6) Remove all of the brush and saplings that have started to grow in many of the glades. 7) Remove as many of the large rocks currently within the "glades" as is feasible. The aforementioned would be just the start of an environmental clean-up at BK to improve the skiing, scenery, landscape, and environment at Blue Knob. My best guess is that such a badly needed operation would run at least 3 million dollars!
(Anonymous)
October 25, 2003
The place needs spruce trees lots of them! Camelback planted the heck out of them.Much improvement.sugar mtn,nc needs them bad.Elk mtn,pa has planted tons of norway spruce's.They started this project years ago SMART THINKING That was always my gripe growing up sking in pa & the va slopes NO SPRUCES! They shade, they cusion,They help with erosion & they look beautifull snow covered.
JohnL
October 25, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
>> John L, a sincere discussion of some concerns about BK is not "yapping".

Steve V., there has been little to no sincere discussion of Blue Knobs environmental actions on this and other ski message boards. Rather there has been open bashing of Blue Knob and posters who have asked questions concerning Blue Knob's policies. While your post may have been well-intentioned, you bear the burden of the actions of numerous posters who have preceeded you.

Most people in this country (myself included) will listen to people who:
1) Illustrate problems (in sufficient detail) with present conditions
2) Propose concrete solutions to the problems

Your original post did not mention 2. Furthermore, other posts (and to a lesser extent yours) have done very little to explain in detail the problems that exist. Given that and the lack of constructive discussion on the part of previous posters, you can (or at least should) understand my abrupt response to your post.

Now that you have proposed possible solutions to what you perceive are environmental problems, I'll engage in a sincere discussion with you.

First of all, I think it's import to differentiate between those actions which will help to improve the skiing in the glades versus those which will improve the environmental health of the glades. While the former is probably more of a hot button with the posters on this board, I suspect the latter is more important to you. While there is probably a large amount of overlap between the two, be honest about the differences. Most skiiers are reasonable people and will support most policies to help minimize environmental damage that man's activity in alpine environments cause.

From a layman's perspective, most of your proposed actions seem reasonable. Unfortunately, while I'm not an expert in ski area economics, I seriously doubt the price tag of 3 million is something the owner's of Blue Knob are willing/can afford. So reality sets in. In a case like this, priorities have to be set. What are the most important (environmentally-speaking) of the 7 items you mentioned, and what is your estimated cost?

From my perspective, items 3 and 4 seem common sense and would improve both the environmental and ski health of the glades. From an environtmental perspective, items 5, 6, and 7 seem to have limited (if any) environmental benefits. If you feel they have environmental benefits, please explain your reasoning for including them.

From my own experience in the glades of Blue Knob, I haven't noticed any gullies beyond natural stream beds (item 2), but I have certainly noticed debris, saplings, rocks and brush. It sucks for skiing, but is it bad for the environment?

Please discuss in a reasonable manner and you will get reasonable responses.

JohnL
October 25, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Steve V.,

Second question for you. What is your opinion of Andy's suggestion for planting spruce trees in the glades of Blue Knob? I always have questions about introducing new plant or animal species to an ecosystem. While spruce's do exist locally, do they make sense for the local ecosystem of Blue Knob?

Roger Z
October 25, 2003
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
JohnL: one minor quibble. I think solutions that are enviornmentally sound for glades are also often sound for the skiing in the glades as well. Glades without good management policies become increasingly open as time goes on. Some of the older "glades" I've skied New England hardly have any trees left on them at all-- from an environmental perspective, that seems like forest degredation. And from a skiing perspective, it is DEFINITELY degredation.

And to the audience of the board, echoing JohnL: let's suppose spruce aren't native to Blue Knob. There's got to be another coniferous tree that could be planted in the glades that is native-- white pine? Hemlock? Hemlocks are beautiful though endangered by some dumb beetle and typically found along creeks.

Steve I liked your proposals and its a shame it's so darn expensive to do the right thing by the woods. Thanks for your post on the other board too. But like John I'd be curious to know the price tag for each step.

JohnL
October 26, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Roger Z.,

Beyond erosion control, what are some of the environmentally-sound glade management policies @ New England areas that you are talking about?

It seems to me that determining what is "environmentally-sound" is a pretty tricky issue. While clearing fallen trees, brush, rock, etc. will clearly help the skiing, is that really helping the environment of the glades? I see plenty of brush, rocks, fallen trees in the woods, independent of man's activities. The decaying dead plant matter serves as nature's fertilizer for the next generation of plant life.

Many locals in the Northeast thin out the brush in some of their favorite hidden stashes. I know that the National Forest Service prohibits this activity on Forest Service land, so there is probably some adverse environmental impact in the Forest Service's opinion.

Trees don't last forever; the future generations are seeded by the present generation. Often times, the future generation is a different tree species. Seems like there are plenty of trees in the glades and next to the glades. How are they not reseeding the next generation? Question for Steve V.

Ski trails, gladed or not, impact the environment. Since there is a limited amount of land taken up by ski areas themselves, I feel it's acceptable use of the land. (Real estate development is another matter, but Blue Knob is about as undeveloped as it gets. And hopefully it stays that way.)

JohnL
October 26, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
One comment about how the trail activities at Blue Knob have affected the "scenic" nature of the mountain. While there is a hard-core Blue Knob contingent here at DCSki, most DCSki posters and readers have not been to Blue Knob.

I can only speak about winter at Blue Knob. There may very well be some unsightly erosion on ski trails and in the glades during the summer months, but they are not visible during the winter. With the exception of two intermediate glades and one expert glade, the glades are not visible to those on the trails or lifts. The visible glades look like clearings in the woods, not the by-product of industrial activity.

Roger Z
October 26, 2003
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
JohnL-- I wasn't talking about environmentally sound policies, but rather policies that didn't seem to be working. I have no disagreement that in the forest you find rocks, stumps, fallen trees, cliffs, and what not. What I meant was that there wasn't a lot done for the glades at a lot of New England resorts up through the 80s. Consequently the glades were becoming thinner and thinner as far as forestation goes. Skiers are pretty likely to run over saplings, for instance. As a result, a number of resorts were facing a situation where a lot of their glades simply weren't gladed anymore. Mad River Glen has been actively working on Paradise for the last decade or so to thicken the trees back up in there.

That's what I was referring to-- policies (or lack thereof) that were resulting in denuded glade trails. Yes obviously glade trails need to be thinned. Anyone who has tried to hack his way off-trail in an eastern forest on a hike can vouch for that. What the good policies are, I don't know. Steve's list sounded reasonable, though removing rocks and stumps could result in more erosion rather than less.

What I do know is: there is nothing worse than getting your hopes up to ski a gladed trail only to get to the top of it and see a largely open slope staring back at you.

JohnL
October 26, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Roger,

Some good points.

>> What I do know is: there is nothing worse than getting your hopes up to ski a gladed trail only to get to the top of it and see a largely open slope staring back at you.

Just about all glade trails (found on a trail map) that I've skied have been very thinned out. (Paradise != Paradise Woods). The only ones that immediately come to mind were the triple black @ Smuggs and Slalom Glades at Stowe.

Any glades on a trail map that you'd recommend as not being too thinned-out? East Coast or in the West.

Roger Z
October 26, 2003
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
JohnL-- well, there was Cherry Bowl at T-Line. But we all know it's sad fate. When I was at Jay Peak several years ago, pretty much all of their gladed terrain was in oustanding shape-- Evergreen and Staircase especially. Again, though, it's newer. Haven't been around too many other NE glades to provide good commentary. I remember the glades at Stowe being decent, but some of that was off-map.

The west is a bit different. Forestation patterns are different so sometimes the glades are much more open but naturally so. And some of the glade trails are so large that there are parts that are thinned out and parts that the forest is so thick you can't link a turn. For an example of the latter, check out Shadows and Closet at Steamboat-- big open paths down the middle with some incredibly tight acreage to the side of the trails and some beautiful aspen glades around as well: a bit of everything. Whistler has some great glades too but they are midmountain and thus exposed to the variable conditions of the Coastal Range. And I've got a soft spot for Big Mountain, Montana. Much of their terrain is in a quasi-open state that is just fantastic to ski: not quite glades but not quite open, either (like Powdertrap-- divine-- and Good Medicine).

What have you enjoyed in your travels, John, gladewise?

Of course... we're getting WAY off subject now...

JohnL
October 27, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Didn't mean to pull the subject off topic, I was just trying to get a reference point to what you considered to be an excessively open glade versus one that had good tree spacing. Looks like we have very little common reference points (haven't been to Timberline.)

Back to the environmental problems of Blue Knob and possible solutions...

(Anonymous)
November 10, 2003
To follow-up a bit on my discussion about the environmental problems (in my opinion) at Blue Knob: First of all, I'm not aware of any BK bashing; perhaps some of the posts have lacked eloquence, but they express legitimate concerns. Blue Knob and the area surrounding BK have undergone some of the most most aggressive and widespread commercial logging in the mid-atlantic region. And NO timber managment plan was involved (which isn't illegal in PA but highly desirable), hence NO environmental stabilization or clean-up. In the opinion of many, this logging activity has not only hurt the environment, it has reduced the quality of skiing at BK. In fact, the so-called glades are so pathetic that they are still littered with piles of logging waste. Even the glades off of Bunny Hop (now called Jack Rabbit) contain large piles if logging waste (often called "slash piles"). As you enter these glades you'll notice large piles of brush and large cut branches on each side of the narrow trail entry, hardly a scenic or safe skiing experience. Sadly, BEFORE the logging (or glade creation as it has been called) there was excellent tree skiing at BK, to name of few of these trials: Blue Trail, The Ditch, The Point, and Cliff Hanger. NONE of these natural trails are really skiable anymore; the logging operations destroyed them! Planting Norway spruces wouldn't be a bad idea, they are a close relative of the Red spruce (which are still abundant in WVA). In fact, Red spruces were once common at BK, roughly 200 years ago, a few (very few) can still be found on the mountain. However, I would be very surprised to see the current owners of BK put a significant amount of money into the place. At any rate, don't take my word for anything; go up to BK, look the place over and form your own opinions. In my opinion, this ski area is in very bad shape!
finsoutoc
November 10, 2003
Member since 09/30/2003
172 posts
steve, why dont you organize people to plant the trees up there instead of relying the mgmt? we've done stuff like the at roundtop when they did things we didnt like and worked out great. you could probably get a free season pass out of it.
(Anonymous)
November 10, 2003
Volunteer tree planting at BK is a great idea! But, so far, Blue Knob State Park and the owners of BK ski area haven't been willing to put up any trees. Keep in mind that it would literally take thousands of trees to improve things much.
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