The battle with pine beetles at Great Divide Snowsports has an upside. It may turn the slopes into a better skiing and riding product. A logging project at the resort, plus several other improvements, gave the resort a busy off-season.

The zing of chainsaws rang across the slopes of Great Divide for the fourth summer in a row of fighting pine beetles. The $250,000 logging project, similar to battles facing many resorts across the West, pruned out dead trees infested with beetles on 300 acres in Wild West.

"The down side was that we had to bring in specialized machinery to do some of the work," owner Kevin Taylor told OnTheSnow. "But the upside is that it should ski really neat."

Widely spaced big trees now replace what used to be thick forest. Taylor describes the new look as a forest park setting. "It's open enough to snake a groomer down through it," he added.

The resort has posted three consecutive record seasons, which caused Taylor to earmark $400,000 for improvements this year. "It's been one of the busiest summers we've ever had, but we needed to put money back into it," said Taylor.

Improvements to the resort included things seen and unseen. The resort erected new buildings, including ones to house ski school and the ski patrol at the summit. Crews are building more park features to be added along with a new park this winter. Rehabilitation work modernized components for two lifts.

More night lights were added due to the popularity of Friday nights on the slopes. "Friday nights became so overcrowded that we had to run a second chair," said Taylor. Skiers and riders will find a mile-long ski trail lit up this winter, combining Cub, Meadows, and Boomerang runs. Taylor is also planning on adding Saturday night operations, too.

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