FRANCONIA, N.H. (AP) – The amount of ski terrain available at Cannon Mountain may double as soon as next year, after a state advisory committee approved a plan to reopen the neighboring Mittersill ski area.

The decision came as the Cannon Mountain Advisory Committee learned that after losing $493,000 last year, state-run Cannon will end this winter in the black, with an estimated $250,000 to $350,000 profit.

“We can’t let up on momentum,” general manager John DeVivo told the group.

DeVivo said bountiful snowfall, new grooming equipment, a changed philosophy and return visitors have made the difference.

The Mittersill opening would return trails to use that have been closed to lift access for almost 30 years.

Master plan revisions backed by the advisory panel incorporate protections sought by the U.S. Forest Service as part of a land swap that would allow the state to have lift service.

The land deal could be sealed as early as the end of this year, allowing public access to Mittersill trails next winter in exchange for land in Piermont that contains a quarter-mile section of the Appalachian Trail. That state land would become part of the White Mountain National Forest.

DeVivo said he envisions very limited service at Mittersill if the swap is approved and said he would focus spending more on the existing ski area’s lodge needs and trail conditions.

In the near term, DeVivo said, Mittersill might see a double chair lift on the same pathway as an old lift there, virtually no snowmaking and limited grooming to keep Mittersill “a very natural experience,” for which he believes there is a market.

DeVivo said he is not sure a lift to connect the two ski areas is a good idea right away. Without it, visitors will need to take off their skis and snowboards and climb to Mittersill’s summit.

DeVivo said he would like to spend $100,000 on a snowmaking system, tractor repairs and other projects for Cannon.



Information from: New Hampshire Union Leader, http://www.unionleader.com

AP-ES-04-05-08 1211EDT


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