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Thunderbolt Ski Trail Eroding

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Mount Greylock Advisory Council has serious concerns with erosion on the Thunderbolt Ski Trail.
Advisory Council member Heather Lindscott relayed a message to the state Department of Conservation and Recreation and the rest of the council from the Thunderbolt Ski Runners who have noticed major erosion issues on the historical ski trail caused by over hiking. 
"They are just making trenches now," she said on Wednesday. "There are parts that are just rock and they are wearing it down."
Trail Coordinator Becky Barnes said the Thunderbolt is the quickest way up the mountain and one of the most popular trails. She said the erosion has been worsened by water cascading down the trenched trail.
She added that because it is a ski trail it can't really be shut down. The trail is always "live" so it is hard to allow for any regeneration.
Lindscott suggested rerouting parts of the trail for hikers or blocking off parts of the ski trail but Barnes said she thought this would only send people off-trail. She said with endangered species throughout the area she did not want people storming through. She said this would also make rerouting parts of the trail difficult.
"We have to make sure we are not impacting habitat by changing the traffic flow," she said. 
Chairman Cosmo Catalano thought some signage and possibly blocking parts of the trail with snow fence would at least get the word out and may give the trail time to regenerate. He said it would give DCR some time to form a plan for a more substantial repair of the trail.
Barnes said she would meet with the Thunderbolt Ski Runners and get the ball rolling but noted any larger trail project would take a lot of time and a lot of resources.
"It takes a lot of time and you have to get the money," Barnes said.
In other business, the summit roads are ten years old and starting to deteriorate. More specifically culvert issues have led to over ten sinkholes on Rockwell and Sperry Roads.
"We are finding that the culverts...during the freeze-thaw cycle the ends of them are moving and we are losing the packed gravel on top," Barnes said. "...We are going to need some road work soon."
She said the moving culverts are also causing unnatural bumps on the roads.
Barnes said the summit roads provided even more concerns this season and they are awaiting a traffic study that could possibly eliminate school bus traffic on the summit roads.
"We have been very proactive with schools trying to give them alternatives to driving the school bus to the top," she said. "In some cases we were successful but sometimes we don't know they are coming."
She said they have safety concerns with buses on the summit roads and ask school trips to hike or take smaller vehicles.
Barnes added buses in the parking lot also add to capacity issues. She said this season they had had to start a queue once the parking lot filled. 
"We fill up and people have to wait in line," she said. "It is one in and one out."
She said the hang gliders additionally tend to cause a slowdown. They are often parked for a long time and attract spectators who tend to stay on the summit to watch. 
Barnes said Bascom Lodge events also cause major parking issues.
Catalano said he thought there should be better communication from Bascom Lodge.
"I don't understand why they don’t seek consultation with DCR staff when they schedule," he said. "They are the leaseholder and they are beholden to the state there has to be some leverage ... they are basically denying public access to public land because they want to do a private event."
Barnes said they are working with the lodge to better communicate over scheduling but issues still do arise. She said DCR does ask that the lodge avoid planning weddings during the fall but a wedding or two always show up unannounced.
"They kind of do that but occasionally they send a wedding up in the fall and the bride gets really mad when she can’t get to the summit on time for her wedding," she said.
She said if they shuttle wedding participants up, there are no issues and DCR has asked the Bascom Lodge to relay this to wedding planners but there seems to be a breakdown in communication.
She added that there is a trash issue at the lodge as well and they are not properly storing waste. She said bears have easily circumvented their current receptacles.
Catalano asked that these issues be addressed with the Bascom Lodge managers.

Tags: hiking,   Mount Greylock,   Thunderbolt,   

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Reid Civics Class Holds Virtual Town Hall With Senator Hinds

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Reid Middle School students got a chance to quiz their state senator on Tuesday to kick off a student-led civics project.
The eighth-grade class prepared the questions for state Sen. Adam Hinds that were then vetted and chosen by the student civics leaders who represent each civics class.
Questions ranged from hates crime legislation, the First Amendment, the vaccination rollout, and getting back to a "new normal."
Principal Michael Henault said it was the changes made in 2018 to the state's history and social science curriculum framework that led to the virtual town hall with the senator. The core priority of the curriculum change was emphasizing and expanding civics education and supporting eighth-graders in a student-led civics project.
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