LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Mount Greylock State Reservation staff last week reported a quiet late fall and winter on the mountain but noted currently snow conditions are perfect.
"There is great snow right now, and there are so many people up there loving the snow," Becky Barnes of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation told the Mount Greylock Advisory Council on Thursday. "We have a ton of snowmobiles on the trails and a ton of skiers using the Thunderbolt [trail]. It is packed down."
In the recent past, the mountain has gone some winters with spotty snow coverage. The Thunderbolt Ski Run has been consistently canceled over the past decade. Organizers have had difficulties scheduling a race around the varied weather and snow conditions.
Council member Heather Lindscott said she just skied down the Thunderbolt and agreed snow conditions were on point. She said she was also thankful for new signage on the Thunderbolt to enhance safety.
Chairman Cosmo Catalano added that the snow has yet to turn into ice though frigid temperatures were expected on the weekend.
Barnes went over her report and said a portion of Rockwell Road continues to deteriorate near Mitchel Brook and currently is down to one lane.
"It is slipping away," she said. "It may need to be closed for repairs, but at this point right now, it is passable and it is safe. We have it pretty well blocked off, but I am hoping they will be able to address that issue."
Barnes said there are also sinkholes on road.
She said DCR does plan to make repairs and that Sperry Road is also due for some repairs.
Barnes said they were able to remove some hazardous trees from the mountain as well as cleanout gutters before winter truly arrived.
On the COVID-19 front, Barnes said staff continues to be careful, maintaining social distancing at all times and constantly cleaning shared spaces.
"We are wearing masks at all times now, even outside," she said. "Especially when we are in contact with the public."
She said maintaining small workgroups has not been an issue because staff is already limited.
"We are certainly working in small groups because that is all we have right now," she said.
Barnes said the six seasonal staff members were terminated on Oct. 17 and the remaining seasonal staff were terminated in November. She said currently they have a visitor center supervisor, a year-round laborer, one winter seasonal worker, and the mountain supervisor on the mountain.
There was a COVID-19 scare among staff in November, and they were forced to enter into quarantine. Ultimately no one tested positive, she said, however, during the time, Barnes was the only employee on the mountain.
"I was not part of the quarantine and held down the fort for that week or so," Barnes said.
She said the visitors center is open but the exhibit space is closed. The campgrounds and backcountry shelter are also closed.
Barnes said DCR recently purchased a utility snowmobile for the mountain that can be used for mountain rescues, though there have been no incidents the past few months.
"We are very excited to have it," Barnes said. "It will make our work a lot easier and make our work better."
Barnes said staff will invite the Growing Wild Initiative on the mountain when it is safe to do so. She said the DCR NDR coordinated program aims to preserve native pollinator habitats on public and private land.
She said there are plans to start some of the activities centered around the initiative this spring, depending on public health numbers.
The council went over the Bascom Lodge report. Catalano said the lodge management was concerned about out-of-state parking fees. He said people are often reluctant to eat at the lodge when it costs $20 just to park.
He asked if was possible to implement an "off-peak" fee but Barnes said the statewide fees are set by the Legislature, and it is difficult to lower them for one park. She said Greylock already has one of the lower parking fees.
Mark Jester of DCR said it may be worth writing to the state anyways
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