January 6, 2023
Plans are progressing for the Oak Hill Outdoor Center (OHOC) as we enter a sloppy new year. All of us are hoping for better skiing conditions, but perhaps the current weather reinforces our enthusiasm for the project. Post-holiday season, there is little to report in terms of material updates. However, the joint venture among Dartmouth College, the Hanover Improvement Society, and the Friends of Oak Hill (FOH) is agreed and fundraising is underway through the Dartmouth Development Office for Dartmouth's portion of the budget. Logging is scheduled to begin as early as January 23rd and extend through mid-February, but the exact schedule depends on weather conditions. The ground must be frozen to enable equipment access. Logging operations will constrain access to the parking lot and cross-country ski trails. The Dartmouth Cross Country Ski Center will be posting information for members on their website as the schedule becomes more definite, and as information about access to trails that will remain open becomes available. Although all of us hope the aesthetic and environmental impact can be minimized, some of the logging is necessary for safety reasons. Many of the trees near the existing trails and Storr's Pond campsites have become unhealthy and weakened over the years, and must be removed to ensure the safety of the community. Perhaps this is a good occasion to step back and review the parties supporting and contributing to the project. As many of you know, part of the land on which the facility will be located is owned by the Hanover Improvement Society (closest to Storr's Pond) and part is owned by Dartmouth College (uphill from the parking lot). Both HIS and Dartmouth are enthusiastic supporters of the project. Although HIS and Dartmouth will retain ownership of the land, the three-way agreement noted above designates FOH as the operator/manager of the Outdoor Center. This ensures that neither Dartmouth nor HIS is burdened with operational responsibility and that the interests of the community and the College are fairly balanced. FOH will be governed by a board comprised of community members that will include representation from Dartmouth and Hanover Improvement Society and will be managed by an operations manager. The organizing team, led by Peter Milliken and Matt Rightmire, has consulted with a broad group of interested parties to make sure that a wide variety of concerns have been considered and to generate broad local support. The Town of Hanover has provided a generous grant from the Lou and Ann Bressett Memorial Fund to support the planning and permitting process. John Morton, of Morton Trails in Thetford Center, is providing trail design, and Scott Barthold of Sno.matic Controls and Engineering in Lyme is providing snowmaking engineering and design. Both have been generous with their time and skills. Other local groups have been consulted and have provided feedback and support, including the Ford Sayre Ski Council, the Hanover Conservancy, neighborhood groups, and individuals representing the mountain biking, trails, and disc golf communities. Thanks to all for our ongoing support. Please reach out if you have any questions and look for additional updates in the coming months.