Thanks to Kurt Mazur for forwarding this article (below). Written by freelance writer Candy Irwin, it first appeared in the September 7th, 2012 issue of the South Mountain Press.
If you are a cross-country skier who, like many, prefer to ski on groomed trails, this article will put a smile on your face! In view of the fact that Riding Mountain National Park (RMNP) has been designated a 3-season park due to recent government cutbacks, a group of motivated volunteer organizers have decided to ‘step up to the plate’ to insure that enthusiasts can continue to enjoy RMNP in the winter.
On Wednesday, August 29th a Steering Committee meeting was convened and chaired by Greg Anderson, from the Elkhorn Resort. Also present were George Hartlen, Friends of Riding Mountain National Park (Friends), Judy Snitynsky, Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette Constituency Executive Administrator representing MP Robert Sopuck, Kurt Mazur, organizer of the Jack Rabbit Ski Program, cottage owner Ed Mazur, area resident Bud Wilman, Tom Carberry from the Dauphin area, Tom and Ilse Ketelsen from the Rossburn area, and Jackie and Fred Goods representing the Westman Wilderness Society out of Brandon. Also present were Richard Dupuis, Manager of Visitor Services for RMNP and Dale Wallis, Townsite Manager for RMNP.
The meeting began with an exchange of information to establish the facts necessary to move forward with a workable plan. There are four ski trail groomers owned by RMNP and they will be made available to volunteers. Chainsaw Certification would be preferable, and getting a course set up would be no problem, although much of the clearing work could be done with manual swede saws. All volunteers are insured when working in RNMP once a Volunteer Agreement has been signed.
RMNP will have no staff available for backcountry services, like rescue services and first aid, but the absence of a Safety Specialist does not negate the responsibility of RMNP for the safety of visitors. The R.C.M.P. and local Fire & Rescue groups can be relied on to assume some responsibility as well. Parking lots at the trailheads will continue to be ploughed out, as always.
RMNP will continue to post ski trail information on their website for the public to access and so will Friends of RMNP, usually updated every Thursday throughout the winter.
Friends will oversee the packing, tracking and grooming of the Townsite and Campground classic and skate ski trails. The lighting for evening skiing will remain in place. Friends hopes to access grants, donations and sponsorships in order to hire someone on a contract basis, to ensure regular and consistent grooming of these popular trails. This will also ensure that the Jack Rabbit Ski Program, the RMNP Loppet and scheduled biathlon activities can go forward.
Once this information was shared, the Steering Committee decided to put forward a ‘wish list’ of the other most popular ski trails, which is as follows: Beach Ridges, Hilton, Broadleaf, Edward Creek, Crawford, Deep Lake, Flat Lake, Compound Trail, Lake Catherine, South Lake, Grey Owl and Kinosao. This list has been submitted to RMNP for risk assessment and their suggestions for which trails would be the most suitable for volunteers to sustain. Trail grooming may involve mowing, repairs, tree removal and occasionally, re-routing as well as tracking.
The goal of this meeting is to move forward to meet the needs of ski trail users, namely families, seniors, competitive skiers as well as for young skier development.
If you would like to be involved as a volunteer, please email email@example.com or call Greg Anderson on his cell at 204-782-0431.