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