Residents of the eastern Vermont town of West Windsor are looking to bring back the former Ascutney Mountain Resort. The ski area went bankrupt and shuttered in the summer of 2010, but it could be turned into a community recreation area if the town can raise the $900,000 necessary to buy the property from its current owner, MFW Associates, according to Vermont Public Radio.
The West Windsor community voted to set aside $100,000 to buy 469 acres of the property, and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board has agreed to chip in $300,000. The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is working on raising the remaining funds, partially through a crowdfunding campaign.
TPL is getting involved because of the area’s biodiversity. “[It’s at] the northern edge of some southern forest species and the southern edge of the northern hardwood species, so you’ve got a combination of red pine and oak with spruce and fir, all on acidic soils in a high-elevation diversity,” Kate Wanner, TLP’s project manager for Ascutney, told Vermont Public Radio. “So there’s a lot of stuff going on on that mountain and a lot more to protect besides recreation.”
If the money is raised, West Windsor would take the former ski resort and incorporate it into the West Windsor Town Forest. The goal from there would be to open the property to backcountry skiing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and hiking.
At the town meeting in October, when the purchase was approved, resident Steve Bodley said he thinks buying the property would help the town. “Losing the ski area has been a really hard hurdle to try to get over,” he told the Vermont Standard. “That was the backbone of this town for a long time. Without it, we really don’t have much left.”