Judge Rules Against Wachusett Mountain

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Princeton, MA, July 23, 2001--(SAM Magazine) Despite coming up with a compromise plan to assure no trees in the largest stand of old-growth forest in the state would be touched and completing a Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Report at the state's request, Wachusett Mountain Ski Area's proposal to cut eight acres of trees for two new trails at midmountain was blocked Wednesday by a state Superior Court judge. The judge issued a permanent injunction against the phase of an expansion project that has been in the works since 1993, citing a faulty state Department of Environmental Management (DEM) review.

The trails would include an alpine terrain park and a designated race-training slope and both would be serviced by a new triple. The judge, in ruling on the case, said the DEM commissioner's decision to allow the trail construction last July was arbitrary and violated state law. The commissioner approved the project after the board of the DEM reached a deadlock on the plan. The court ruling came after a protracted legal battle stemming from a suit brought by the Sierra Club of Massachusetts, Watchdogs for an Environmentally Safe Town and 17 private citizens against Wachusett, the state Secretary of Environmental Affairs and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Currently, Wachusett management is reviewing its options in the case.