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February 26. 2013 11:13PM

Waterville Valley owners propose ski area expansion

WATERVILLE VALLEY - The Waterville Valley Ski Resort is on track for its first trail expansion in 25 years.

"We're showing people that Waterville Valley is back as the first-class family ski resort it always has been," said Waterville CEO Chris Sununu, whose company took control of the resort in 2010. "We're bringing it into the 21st century."

The National Forest Service has been studying the proposed expansion and will be issuing a final report next month, after which there will be a final comment period of 30 days, said Susan Mathison, Eastern Region Winter Sports Team leader. Most of the public comments and input received so far has been supportive, she said.

Thomas G. Wagner, the forest supervisor of the White Mountain National Forest, will make the decision on the project, which is proposed entirely on Forest Service land the government has already designated for skiing, Mathison said.

The project would include the construction of one detachable, four-person chairlift, as well as eight new trails and one glade in the Green Peak area. It would increase beginner and intermediate terrain, and offer a more gradual level of terrain challenges at the resort, according to Waterville officials.

It would also expand the opportunities and improve safety for novice and beginner skiers. The additional trails proposed would provide a skill-level appropriate "summit" experience to novice and beginner skiers and boarders.

Sununu said the Green Peak expansion is just the first part of a "multi-phase" schedule of improvements at the resort in coming years. Cost figures have not been calculated for the project, he said.

The project would create a network of eight new trails that would connect and run parallel to the existing trail network along the resort's Stillness and Upper Valley Run, eventually merging and then emerging in the Lower Valley Run base area. The trails would be serviced by a new detachable quad chair lift.

The project would require the clearing of 41.8 acres for the new trails and the lift, and 2.6 acres for widened, existing trails that are adjacent to the proposed expansion. A gladed area would add approximately 12 acres.

The new trails would be covered by machine-made snow to a depth similar to other trails at Waterville Valley. The resort proposes to use the existing water supply sources - Mad River and Corcoran's Pond - to supply the expansion on Green Peak.

Additional water would be withdrawn when available from the existing snow-making supply sources and would be regulated to meet the government's minimum flow requirements for each source.

dseufert@newstote.com


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