Q Burke Eyes Trail Lights

burkelightsBURKE – Skiers and snowboarders in the Northeast Kingdom may soon have the option to hit the slopes after dark. Q Burke Mountain Resort wants to install lights along several trails to allow for skiing and riding at night.



The project falls under the State's Act 250 jurisdiction and is currently in the application phase. Community members and resort officials gathered Tuesday night to take a tour of the property with temporary lights on display, as well as a public hearing. 16 people attended the meeting.

The project calls for 47 light towers and 97 total lights to be installed along two lower mountain trails – Dashney Mile and Carter Country.

According to project consultant Mary O'Leary, the lights will be used every Thursday through Sunday from 4 to 9 p.m., as well as some holidays.

Some residents expressed concern about the glare from the lights. Peter Foukal, an astronomer who owns property near the mountain, was especially vocal in a letter to the Agency of Natural Resources review board.

"I oppose the project on the grounds that the illumination of the trails will cause reflection of bright light off the snow," he wrote. "Such light pollution will obscure the views of the Milky Way and other constellations that rank amongst the natural wonders of the Burke area."

Foukal did not attend the hearing on Tuesday.

O'Leary noted that the lights are designed to shine down on to snow, not up into the night sky. They plan to angle the lights to line up with the slope of the trails.

"People wanted to make sure that they understood what was happening and they wanted to make sure that the whole mountain wasn't lit up all the time," O'Leary explained.

Other community members were troubled by the number of nights that the lights will be in use.

"Night skiing will be limited to 65% of the nights during the season," Joan Harlowe said. "Isn't that quite a lot? That's more than half the nights that they're skiing."

O'Leary believes that Q Burke's plan follows all town and regional guidelines, especially in terms of encouraging recreation and benefitting the local economy.

"We feel pretty comfortable that we have met the criteria," she said.

People who participated in the tour at the mountain pointed out that "you could see the stars" while the temporary lights were on.
Q Burke CEO Ari Quiros believes that having lights will allow the resort to better cater to busy families who don't have time to go to the mountain during the day.

"We'll see what people think and what they say and then we'll adapt," he said when asked about plans to introduce night skiing – and a possible boost in winter tourism – to the area.

O'Leary says it will take about a month for the review board to issue a decision regarding the project permit. If approved, she expects the lights to be installed before the start of the 2016-17 ski season.