Pagosa Nordic Club seeks Ballot Issue 1A funds

Depending on a commissioner vote March 17, the Pagosa Springs area could become home to an extensive network of free, groomed, cross-country ski trails as early as next winter.

Specifically, the question before the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) Tuesday will be whether to approve releasing $26,100 in Ballot Issue 1A parks and recreation funds for equipment purchases and operations and maintenance costs for the Pagosa Nordic Club’s Nordic trails project.

The Pagosa Nordic Club is a non-profit volunteer group committed to enhancing winter recreation opportunities in the Pagosa Springs area by maintaining accessible groomed winter trails for skate skiing, cross-country track skiing and snowshoeing.

James Dickhoff of the Pagosa Nordic Club said the club formed in the summer of 2008 in order to expand winter recreation opportunities in the Pagosa Springs area.

Currently, Dickhoff said, the primary user area is a trail system adjacent to and along the West Fork Road. However, Dickhoff said the club intends to expand groomed Nordic trail opportunities to the Williams Creek Campground area, Reservoir Hill, areas adjacent to Pagosa Springs schools, the practice field at Town Park and the town’s new sports complex. In addition, the club is assessing possibilities in the Fawn Gulch, Coyote Hill, Snowball Road and Turkey Springs areas, although trail work and grooming in these locations is subject to Forest Service approval.

Dickhoff said club members will work with Forest Service staff this summer to determine which national forest lands are most appropriate for Nordic trails.

Dickhoff said his group’s 1A funding request stems from a desire to provide a regularly maintained, groomed and mapped Nordic trail network in the Pagosa Springs area, and to move away from total reliance on the generosity of volunteers.

To do so, Dickhoff said, the group needs equipment and a reliable revenue stream.

By contrast, Dick Cole and Norm Vance have spent the last 14 years donating time, money and equipment to groom the Nordic trails in the West Fork area. However, Dickhoff said Vance and Cole are ready to retire from shouldering the bulk of the grooming burden, hence the creation of the Pagosa Nordic Club.

In order to expand the Nordic trail network and winter recreation opportunities, Dickhoff said initial funding will be used primarily to purchase a snowmobile, grooming machine and other related equipment. Once the capital equipment is purchased, Dickhoff estimates annual operating costs and maintenance operations should be manageable with a variety of grants, financial support and volunteers from various local outdoor clubs and from contributions from businesses and individuals in the community.

Before the BoCC hears a Ballot Issue 1A parks and recreation funding request, the county’s Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Trails Task Force (PROST) reviews the project and makes a funding recommendation to the BoCC.

Michael Whiting, PROST board chair, said his committee unanimously agreed to recommend the project to the BoCC for funding during PROST’s Feb. 9 meeting.

Photo courtesy Pagosa Nordic Club
James Dickhoff, middle, of the Pagosa Nordic Club, presents Dick Cole (left) and Norm Vance (right) with “Certificates of Appreciation,” thanking them for nearly two decades of volunteer work, grooming and maintaining cross country ski trails at the West Fork Trailhead. With Cole and Vance ready for “retirement,” club leadership will approach the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners March 17 to request Ballot Issue 1A parks and recreation funds to continue West Fork grooming and create a wide network of free, groomed, winter recreation and Nordic trails in the Pagosa Springs area.