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Birdseye eco-center to open

CASTLETON Rutland County businessman Ed Davis acquired Birdseye Mountain three years ago, but his love for the mountain began decades ago. Back in 1972, when Davis was nine years old, he accompanied his father to watch a snowmobile race at a mountain with an unusual name Birdseye Mountain. He remembers snowmobile fans cheering and enjoying an afternoon of family fun. After the race, little Ed Davis turned to his father and said, Someday Im gonna buy that mountain. Birdseye, located on the the Ira-Castleton town line, is the site of a once popular ski resort. According to the New England Lost Ski Areas Project, this lost ski area was founded by Bill Jenkins, along with a board of directors, in 1961. Names formerly associated with the ski area include Stan Brzoza of West Rutland, Harold Blittersdorf of Pittsford, Malcolm Williams of Poultney, and Herman Dederer of Shelburne. The ski resort was constructed on the north side of Bird Mountain, just off Route 4 (now designated Route 4A). Don Sevigny and his father operated the mountains camping area during the 1970s. Most of the trails, particularly the upper ones, vanished rapidly as trees and shrubs filled them in over the years. From the 1980s and through early 2000s, the trails at Birdseye were nearly impassable. While some logging took place on the slopes, there were few signs of human activity. The old base ski lodge burned down and the camping ceased. Birdseye was a ghost. Fast forward to 2008: Ed Davis is now working to restore and reopen the mountain that inspired a popular, local 1950s-style diner. Davis has bold plans to create nature trails, nature-center exhibits, a nature conservancy area, plus reopen Birdeyes campgrounds. The new nature-oriented complex will be called the Birdseye Environmental Centerunless, as Ed Davis said, A big donor steps in, then there will obviously be a name change for the center. In conjunction with Vermont Adaptive Sports Association (a story featured in the Rutland Tribune on Oct. 8), the new mountain project will promote independence and further equality through access and instruction to sports and recreational opportunitiesakin to wheelchair access improevments along part of the Appalachian Trail where it crosses Rutland County. This project is particularly important to Davis because his uncle became a paraplegic after falling into a well. It was a struggle to get him back into the woods, Davis said. He was an avid outdoorsman who still wanted access to the wilderness. Davis has aquired a unique piece of property that boasts the entire ecosystem of Vermont but contained within a few square miles. Its a gem he wants to share with the Audubon Society, too. The goal is to protect local birds and other wildlife along with habitat; the Birdseye center will create a culture of conservation through natural science education, and advocacy. Davis also hopes that local colleges such as Green Mountain College, Castleton State College, and the College of St. Joseph, will partner to create internships at the mountain center and campground. There are so many variables we arent rushing anything right now, Davis said, but there are an abundance of opportunities. Birdseye Mountain is easily accessible from New York and Massachusetts. The mountain stands at the northern end of the Taconic range which is geologically the sheared off, upturned tops of the nearby Green Mountains. The north face of Birdseye starts off gradually at the base, but rises dramatically to the summit with its nearly dramatic vertical cliffs. The Birdseye center will be free and open to the public. Funding will come through the generosity of donations and fundraisers. For more information contact Davis at 802-265-9994 or visit the website www.nelsap.org.

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