Monday, December 17, 2001
Steamboat Springs Wouldn't it be nice if snowmobilers and (nonmotorized) backcountry skiers voluntarily organized a club to improve their backcountry experience?
In North Routt, that's a reality.
The Steamboat Lake Snow Club consists of both backcountry users and recently received a grant to help pay for a new tracked snow machine to groom cross-country ski trails and snowmobile trails.
"We are one of the only clubs that is motorized and nonmotorized," said Ken Brink of Steamboat Lake State Park and a member of the club.
The park has 15 kilometers of touring trails for skiers that will benefit from the new groomer.
Both the Colorado Snowmobile Association and the Backcountry Skiers Alliance recognize the Snow Club. The purchase of the groomer is unique because it is meant for both motorized and nonmotorized users.
"This groomer is state-of-the-art snow-grooming equipment," Brink said.
The equipment had an $184,000 price tag. Recently, the group received a grant from the Colorado State Trails Committee for $92,000 to pay for half of the cost of the machine. Rarely does that committee grant such a large sum and rarely does it grant to a winter trail group, Brink said.
Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, wrote a letter of support to help secure the grant, Brink said.
The other half came from Don Markley, owner of snowmobile guiding service Steamboat Lake Outfitters, and Ed MacArthur, who also owns a snowmobile touring company that uses North Routt. Both men put up $46,000 for the machine.
"That's huge," Brink said. Without the donations from Markley and MacArthur, the groomer couldn't have been purchased, he said.
Both men will use the snow groomer for trails they access, but the new machine also will groom popular cross-country ski trails.
The Snow Club was organized a couple of years ago after witnessing motorized and nonmotorized users of the Routt National Forest initially butt heads over issues on Rabbit Ears Pass. Since then, the U.S. Forest Service formed a task force to help work out their differences, which resulted in reinforcing suggested nonmotorized areas on Rabbit Ears Pass and implementing a nonmotorized area on Buffalo Pass.
Brink said the group was organized to identify issues between motorized and nonmotorized users before they became a problem and before use on public land has a chance to increase dramatically in North Routt.
At 10 a.m. Thursday morning at Steamboat Lake State Park, a ceremony will be held to celebrate the purchase of the groomer.