LANESBOROUGH -- More than 200 people spent the first day of summer zipping through the canopy of the forest above Brodie Mountain Road on Saturday during the grand opening celebration at the new aerial adventure park Ramblewild.
Even its creator didn't envision the extensive reach of the park into the branches of the trees, passing over a gorge and back again.
"I didn't expect to see it like this, in terms of scope," said Paolo Cugnasca, a principal at Feronia Forests, the company that owns Ramblewild. "I don't think there is anything like this in the Northeast."
He noted that the project was three years in development, and under construction for 10 months.
"This is a unique and magical place because it connects people, especially young people, with nature," Cugnasca added. "It was designed to do that."
Aerial adventurers traveled hundreds of feet through the forest without touching the ground. They crossed from tree to tree on ropes, boards, steps, zip lines and crossed over the gorge on a saddle or via the 200-foot suspension bridge.
Ramblewild cost more than $1 million from concept to reality. It was constructed by Tree-Mendous and involved engineering plans and a lengthy permitting process.
During the opening ceremony, Ramblewild CEO Tim Gallagher thanked a number of parties, including engineers, designers, crew members and others who had helped in bringing the project to a conclusion.
Attendees of opening day were quick to try out the 135-element ropes course.
The park is actually only part of the effort to turn the property that stretches to Brodie Mountain into a sustainable forest venture by owner Feronia Forests. Part of the land is leased to the owner of the Berkshire Wind turbines on Brodie Mountain. Plans are underway for a large solar panel installation adjacent to part of the turbine site, and there is a sugarbush operation that encompasses 110 acres with 7,500 taps.
Part of the concept also calls for educational tours of the forest to introduce students to the power generation and maple syrup production. A nonprofit fund, the Feronia Forest Fund, was created to fund trips for school children who might otherwise never have the opportunity to visit the forest.
"We have the opportunity here to change the lives of thousands of young people," Cugnasca said.
On hand for the opening were state Reps. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams, and William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox.
"I think this is one of the brightest new businesses to come into the First Berkshire District," Cariddi said. "We hope people will come out to support it."
Pignatelli described it as a "perfect addition" to the area.
"There is a whole new wave of tourists coming to the Berkshires," Pignatelli said. "They still come for the culture, yes, but a great many of them also are attracted to outdoor recreation as well."
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