Our Mission & Goals
The Friends of Burke Mountain, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to assuring the long-term success of Burke Mountain for the benefit of the local community, the Northeast Kingdom, and the future enjoyment of all those who treasure it.
Our first priority is to help assure that the Mountain re-opens swiftly and permanently. We also seek to support the Mountain and local community during the receivership period and beyond. Read more about our short and long term goals. Our Goals.
About Burke Mountain and the Greater Burke Area
Burke is a 3,267 foot mountain with a 2,011 foot vertical drop located within Darling State Park in East Burke, Vermont. It is part of Vermont’s storied and beautiful Northeast Kingdom, and its challenging slopes boast a dramatic view north over the unspoiled countryside and the dramatic mountain profile of Lake Willoughby.
“God’s Cathedral”: In the 1930s, the Darling Family donated a large parcel of land on the mountain to the State, creating Darling State Park. When Governor Robert Stafford accepted the gift, he called Burke Mountain “God’s Cathedral.”
Soon thereafter, Burke residents envisioned the park as recreation site to include skiing and hiking trails. In 1932, a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) crew was hired to build an auto road to the summit, and then built a recreation area and cleared ski trails.
The Greater Burke Area has evolved around the Mountain to become a premier four-season recreation destination, including, through the work of Kingdom Trails, providing more than 80 miles of the best mountain biking trails in the United States. Nearly 80,000 mountain bikers visit the Greater Burke Area each year.
Burke Mountain Academy’s Pivotal Role
One of the things that sets Burke Mountain apart is Burke Mountain Academy. BMA, with a strong academic program, is the leading ski racing academy in the United States. The school has produced numerous members of the U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Olympic Teams.
In 1999, after a succession of owners, BMA bought the Mountain, garnering an outpouring of capital support from hundreds of area residents, season pass holders and other supporters, who expressed their faith in the Mountain by purchasing season passes.
Events Leading to the Current Federal Receivership
In May 2012, a subsequent owner sold the Mountain to real estate developer Ariel Quiros and his partners in Q Burke Mountain Resorts LLC and related entities. Much to the consternation of employees, area residents, and long-time supporters of Burke Mountain, Quiros renamed the resort “QBurke.”
On the QBurke website, Quiros and his business partners promised up to $108 million in developments to transform “QBurke” into a four season resort complete with tennis and aquatic centers, including an 180,000 square foot, 116 unit hotel at the base of the Mountain. Quiros raised capital through the federal government’s EB-5 Visa program. Under the EB-5 program, promoters raise capital from foreign investors — individuals and their families who are eligible for and wish to receive U.S. residency – who invest at least $500,000 in regions where there is economic need, such as the Northeast Kingdom, in order to create at least 10 jobs.
The Quiros plan sounded good and built on many prior improvements to the Mountain, including the installation of the high-speed Mid-Burke quad in 2011-2012, construction by the Quiros group of the hotel, and capital investments in new snowmaking equipment.
The Securities and Exchange Commission Investigation
Then, in April 2016, after a joint investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the SEC) and Vermont state regulators, the SEC seized QBurke Mountain, the QBurke Hotel, which had failed to open as scheduled, Jay Peak Resort and other Quiros-backed projects in the Northeast Kingdom.
In a more than 80 page complaint, the SEC alleged that Quiros and his partners had “systematically looted $50 million of the more than $350 million that had been raised [for Northeast Kingdom projects, including QBurke] from hundreds of foreign investors through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.” Further, the SEC alleged, of the $350 million raised, nearly $200 million had been misused.
This alleged fraud has devastated investors and caused job losses, including the loss of 180 jobs at Burke, and has created economic uncertainty across the Northeast Kingdom. The Northeast Kingdom, which is one of the most beautiful regions of the United States, is also home to the three Vermont counties with the State’s lowest median incomes.
At the request of the SEC, a federal court froze the Quiros-related assets and appointed Michael Goldberg as a receiver to oversee and administer the assets and property at issue, including Burke Mountain. (For more information, please see the receiver’s website, jaypeakreceivership.com.) The Receiver, in turn, appointed Leisure Hotels and Resorts, which specializes in managing resorts in receiverships, to manage operations at Burke Mountain until a new owner is found.
Our short-term goals focus on reopening the Mountain in receivership and restoring jobs and economic opportunity to the Greater Burke Area and the Northeast Kingdom. We also seek to play an active role, in cooperation with the receiver, in finding a new owner for the Mountain, who will rebuild ties to the community and develop a thriving four season resort in keeping with the previously agreed plans that is consistent with the area’s natural setting and the scale of the community.
Our long-term goals include supporting the Mountain, the Greater Burke Area, and the Northeast Kingdom by strengthening local charitable organizations and causes, sponsoring and supporting cultural activities for the benefit of the community, drawing visitors to the region, and ensuring that God’s Cathedral and the surrounding area is preserved and supported for future generations.
Our goals include:
- Representing the interests of Burke Area stakeholders in working with the receiver of Burke Mountain and the Burke Mountain Hotel to reopen the resort as quickly as possible, in order to restore employment and regional economic opportunities.
- Playing a role in finding new owners of the Mountain and Hotel who are committed to the vision of a thriving four season resort that was agreed to with the community and that is consistent with the spirit and natural setting of Burke.
- Helping establish Burke Mountain and the Burke Mountain Hotel as a thriving four season resort that creates jobs and economic opportunity for the Greater Burke Area and the Northeast Kingdom.
- Rebuilding strong ties between the owners and management of Burke Mountain and the Greater Burke community.
- Re-establishing and strengthening the relationship between Burke Mountain and Kingdom Trails in order to promote the Greater Burke Area as a premier mountain biking destination.
- Identifying for visitors, season pass holders, second home owners, and all who love the Northeast Kingdom, giving opportunities, as well as providing direct support to, Burke Area charitable causes and organizations, including:
- providing access to Burke Mountain for area students by paying for season passes and equipment;
- supporting the use of the Mountain by people with learning differences and developmental disabilities;
- and providing access to the Mountain’s programs for veterans and their families.
- Providing a source of reliable news about developments at Burke Mountain and in the Greater Burke Area.
- Promoting and sponsoring cultural, musical, and artistic events in and around the Greater Burke Area for the benefit of the community and to draw visitors to the area.
- Creating partnerships with and supporting other nonprofit organizations in the Greater Burke Area to help residents in need of shelter, food, job training, educational opportunity, and social services.