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All of the snow this winter has meant extra work for volunteers with the Central Oregon Nordic Club. For instance, restocking the new Swampy Lakes shelter was more work than just carrying the firewood. First workers had to locate and dig out wood that was stacked in autumn. As a matter of fact, they had to dig out the entrance area to the shelter to have a place to stack the wood, as well as shoveling snow from the roof. All of this was on top of the regular maintenance that crews do for both ski and snowshoe trails every winter.
The club’s volunteer efforts did get some recognition. CONC Co-President Gary Kelley on Wednesday accepted a plaque (photo at left) for “excellence in trail volunteerism” awarded to the entire club by the Professional Trailbuilders Association, which held a convention at the Riverhouse in Bend. The PTBA’s website describes the organization as the largest private-sector group of trail specialists, contractors, designers and consultants in North America.
Chris Sabo, trails specialist with the U.S. Forest Service, offered CONC “huge congratulations and personal thank you for all your great work” over the years. “Our trail programs could not be what it is without your passion, enthusiasm, sore muscles, long days and happy faces,” Chris said. “Give yourselves a big pat on the back and keep on going. Every day working in the field with you is truly a breath of fresh air.”
CONC volunteer groups are especially active in autumn, when they make trips to clear downed trees from ski trails – sometimes having to do the same trail more than once after windstorms – as well as marking trails with blue diamonds and cutting and splitting firewood for back-country shelters.
Some of the continued efforts over the winter included trying to capture rats reported at the Nordeen shelter, taking photos of all the ski and snowshoe signs for maintenance, putting up more bracketed diamonds on Todd Ridge, fabricating hanger diamonds from various parts, moving wood into the shelter at Swampy and also stocking the AC/DC shelter at Edison Sno-Park. Ski trails that have been significantly redone with bracketed diamonds include Nordeen, Swede (south side), Swampy and beginner’s loop, and Flagline.
“Three Saturdays from now is a new holiday – Buy-A-Volunteer-A-Beer Day – or kiss ‘em!” jokes Gary. “All of you dues-paying heroes provide materials and tools. Other heroes also supply time and grit. It is all working; keep it up everyone! New signs, more firewood, new diamonds, and hut parts are on the way to enhance the skiing experience of Bend.”
James Cagney, co-president, in particular cited the efforts of the club’s “master sawyers,” Doug Williams and Al Matson, who “cleared hundreds of trees from the trails and created thousands of rounds for fires in our stoves.” They work with both hand saws and chainsaws.
Another especially dedicated group is the snowshoe-trail maintenance volunteers led by Bob Timmer. Despite the threat of rain, Bob, Dan Murphy and Dennis DeLapp headed to Meissner one recent day for a final sweep of the snowshoe trail this season. The trio focused on swapping out the “on-the-tree” trail diamonds with 35 bracketed signs, plus trimming branches that might be blocking markers. This was all to make the trail more visible, especially for the first snowshoers who venture into the woods after a fresh snowstorm, when trails are covered.
With chainsaw help from Doug and Al, the snowshoe team cleared and put up signs to mark the new tie trail to the new Swampy shelter and cleared 145 blown-down trees from the trails. Volunteers installed temporary signs at a dozen trail intersections, installed 103 new trail diamonds and installed more than 150 bracketed trail diamonds in place of “on-the-tree” diamonds to improve navigation visibility during and after storms.
“For now, I’m calling a wrap to the trail maintenance for the winter season. We’ve achieved a lot,” Bob reports. “And, to complete the stats, we had 20 maintenance trips, shoeing a cumulative 79.5 miles of trail, and totaling 540 volunteer hours,” Bob says. “Thanks to all for the ever-positive spirit and energy! It has been a great season!”