Balsams project secures crucial wetlands permit
A total of eight individual land parcels will be protected as the resort is developed, including 133 acres of high profile ridgeline terrain along Sanguinary Ridge. It will now be off-limits to any wind farm development.
Credit: DES approves of plan for rebirth of historic resort | By Paula Tracy | WMUR | Dec 21, 2015 | www.wmur.com ~~
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The 11,000-acre Balsams Resort has been issued a wetlands permit from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.
Considered “a milestone” by the project developers, the permit considers permanent impacts, temporary impacts and vegetation conversion areas affected by the project.
The Balsams will give the state, and a conservation group, land and easement rights to protect and enhance protections on approximately 959 acres of critical wildlife habitat.
This is in addition to and affecting 5,670 acres of The Balsams property that has previously been placed in conservation.
“Dixville Notch’s natural wonders are the Balsams’ greatest assets,” said Les Otten, who is leading the redevelopment team. “Protecting and preserving this beautiful wilderness through responsible, concentrated development is paramount. This wetlands permit is a testament to our promise to develop in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner and is the most significant milestone to date. We have taken a great leap forward in creating a year-round, world-class, destination resort, which includes a major expansion of The Balsams Wilderness Ski Area.”
Jeff Rose, commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development, said the the document is key to “restarting the economic engine of Coos County.”
When construction ramps up, it will create about 600 full and part-time jobs as this historic landmark is turned into a world-class destination, he said.
“I appreciate the collective efforts of all the stakeholders and their thorough and thoughtful review of this project,” Rose said.
A total of eight individual land parcels will be protected as the resort is developed, including 133 acres of high profile ridgeline terrain along Sanguinary Ridge.
It will now be off-limits to any wind farm development.
In addition, the Balsams will give the state 92 acres of high value land abutting Dixville Notch State Park. Two additional areas, comprising 476 acres, currently under conservation easement, will have enhanced protections. Other preservation includes 258 acres of wetland and uplands along Clear Stream.
The Balsams’ project has been gathering great momentum and support throughout 2015.
Over the last seven months, the Balsams has secured a water withdrawl permit for snowmaking, a $20 million loan guarantee, and the necessary zoning amendment and approvals.
The Balsams’ redevelopment proposal includes renovating the historic Dix House, Hampshire House and Hale House, as well as the Panorama golf course and clubhouse designed by Donald Ross.
The Balsams Lake Village will encompass the Dix and Hampshire Houses and feature a new Lake Gloriette House hotel, a 500-seat conference center, Nordic hot baths and spa, a performing arts center and an open-air marketplace.
The resort’s fine cuisine and chef training programs, known worldwide, will return through multiple dining opportunities around the resort.
The plan is to embrace the farm-to-table concept by sourcing locally-grown meats, produce and dairy.
The plan also includes expanding The Balsams Wilderness Ski Area into the largest and most technically advanced ski resort on the east coast.
With a skiing base camp at 2,350 feet above sea level, in a true alpine climate zone, The Balsams is known to receive among the highest annual snow totals of any ski resort in the northeast. At build out, it will offer 2,000 acres of alpine terrain accessed by 23 lifts and 100 kilometers of Nordic trails.
“If our expanded ski area were open today, we’d likely have more snow and more trails open than any resort in the northeast,” said Otten. “Because of Dixville’s high elevation and location within the direct path of typical nor’easter winter storms, the Balsams regularly receives more snow than anywhere in New England. We are also consistently colder in Dixville, which will allow us to make snow earlier and more often.”
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