Routt County Riders hires first executive director
March 2, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A Steamboat Springs cycling advocacy group that started to form in the early 1990s has ripped off the training wheels and graduated to a nonprofit organization with a full-time employee.
Kelly Northcutt was raised in Steamboat Springs, and it is her goal as the first Routt County Riders executive director to continue strengthening the important relationships the organization has built over the years.
"I'm hoping to just have a bigger presence in the community," Northcutt said.
Northcutt returned to Steamboat a year and half ago after spending a decade in the Pacific Northwest, where she commuted 100 miles each week for six years.
"That opened up my eyes to the commuter world," Northcutt said.
She has a master's degree in environmental management from Portland State University, where her thesis project focused on the development of off-road cycling facilities.
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Routt County Riders is overseen by nine board members who can only volunteer so much of their time, board member Matt Roberts said.
He said it was time the organization had someone whose sole purpose was representing members and "getting things done."
"It's definitely helpful to have that one point person who can run the organization," Roberts said.
He said Northcutt was a perfect fit for the organization.
"She's super sharp," Roberts said. "Really smart."
Eric Meyer, a former longtime board member and past Routt County Riders president, said the organization has previously had part-time staff members, and hiring someone full time was the right move.
"There is endless amounts of work for any organization like that, and board members can only do so much," Meyer said.
He thinks having someone full-time will help the organization grow and focus on its long-term goals.
Before hiring an executive director, Roberts said the board spent a lot of time going over the organization’s financials, and they met with other successful nonprofit groups to help set expectations for the new position.
Having someone at the helm of Routt County Riders will be even more important as Steamboat continues work to become a more cycling-friendly community.
Steamboat is in the midst of a trail building boom funded by proceeds from a voter-approved 1 percent lodging tax that will generate more than $5 million for trails.
"That speaks to what the community wants," Northcutt said.
The trail projects are ongoing, and Northcutt finds herself in the midst of the next phase called the Mad Rabbit Trails encompassing Mad Creek, Rocky Peak and Rabbit Ears Pass.
Many of the trail projects are on land managed by the U.S. Forest Service, and Northcutt will be navigating the bureaucracy to ensure Routt County Riders has a voice when decisions are being made.
An environmental impact study is currently being conducted for the Mad Rabbit Trails project
In her new role, Northcutt has studied the impacts the project will have on a variety of things like erosion, water quality and even seemingly mundane wildlife such as boreal toads.
"I do consider that part of my job right now," Northcutt said.
Among her other goals at Routt County Riders is reinvigorating volunteer efforts, building relationships with the agriculture community and ensuring Steamboat's evolving trail system has something for everybody.
"I just think we need it all," Northcutt said. "Beginner and extreme trails."