Wachusett Trail Expansion Delayed Again

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Princeton, MA, July 24, 2000--A Suffolk County Superior Court judge Thursday filed a temporary restraining order preventing Wachusett Mountain Ski Area from cutting any of the eight acres of trees it needs to clear to create two new trails at midmountain. The injunction comes a day after the ski area announced plans to begin clearing the trails next month.

The Sierra Club of Massachusetts, Watchdogs for an Environmentally SafeTown and 17 private citizens are suing to halt a mountain development plan that has been in the works for six years because of its proximity to the largest stand of old-growth forest in the state. To this point, Wachusett has developed a compromise plan to assure no old-growth forest on the mountain would be touched and completed a Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Report at the state's request. Wachusett's efforts included two months of planning sessions that involved all concerned local and state organizations.

"This project stops short of the old-growth zone," said Tom Meyers, marketing director of Wachusett today, "and it is well within the buffer zone." Meyers pointed out that a new triple chair would stretch some 1,500 liner feet from the base, stopping short of any encroachment on the trees in question. The two trails will include an alpine terrain park and a designated race-training slope. The expansion of the area's base lodge is currently underway and will not be affected by the restraining order.

Wachusett representatives have been granted a tentative date to make their case to the judge on Friday and were not interviewed before the latest court action. In the meantime, says Meyers, local protesters continue picketing at the ski resort's entrance on weekends. In fact, a month ago, the main sign was spray painted with an anti-expansion slogan and now sits in the repair shop awaiting.