Hello from current officers (Ron Jasperson, Patty McGown, Tom Paulsen)
BHTA doing well financially, on solid ground – equipment is ready for winter – details toward the bottom of this sheet.
The year that was – 2016-17 – pictures on your banquet programs tell the story.
Š A round of applause please for everyone that provided volunteer help this past year. Our volunteers, members & donors are very giving – THANK YOU!!!
Š Despite the wet summer & fall in 2016, we were able to begin grooming early-mid December 2016. Despite one of our lowest snowfall years, we had very good skiing in January and February before warm weather and rain shut us down a few days before the Birkie. Hopefully this winter makes up for the previous two short winters.
Š Our “Blue Hills Trail Fun Day” on February 10th had relatively low attendance, perhaps due to scheduling on a Friday night. Under a full moon, we enjoyed a nice campfire, good food, and good conditions for skiing and snowshoeing. We anticipate another “Fun Day” again this winter when conditions are right.
Now for some thank yous…
Š Thanks to last year’s primary grooming team of head groomer Steve Gest (take a bow!) & Adam Brockman for creating great skiing conditions. They created smooth trails despite the low snowfall and rain events.
Š Thanks to Patty McGown for arranging tonight’s banquet! Patty & Nels are not alone in sharing their enthusiasm in grooming & caring for the Westside trails WHERE YOUR DOGS ARE WELCOME!
Š Big thank you to John Kann & Dan Bjugstad who continue maintaining our ever expanding network of dedicated snowshoe trails – they start just behind the warming house. Contact them (or send Tom an email) if you’d like to help them with trail development. They’ve already begun a significant expansion of the snowshoe trails – now heading toward Hemlock Canyon.
Š The entire trail system was mowed this summer, thanks to our volunteers for removing LOTS of trees & their 50+ hours of mowing, & thanks to the Rusk County Forestry crew for mowing the Westside & parts of the East.
Š Thank you to the volunteers at this year’s fall work day. A week before the workday, a mile wide storm cell passed right over the warming house and produced a lot of trail damage in the form of downed trees and limbs. The work day crews removed about 25 downed trees – and if any of you have time, we still have a few trails in need of inspection, clearing of debris, and branch clipping – please consider volunteering for this. Contact Tom.
Š Thanks to Peter Neal & John Waldron for putting up new signage on the Westside. Now you’ll find directional signs over there – much like the Eastside trails. And you’ll find some fancy new metal maps at each intersection that were printed and donated by Engel/Kurth Sheet Metal in Chippewa Falls – these are the guys that camp in the parking lot during hunting season – another example of folks that truly appreciate the Blue Hills.
Š As we all know, it again was a VERY WET SPRING & SUMMER!!! 5" deluges in May & June wiped out culverts & bridges, and caused massive erosion again – a replay of 2016 – and apparently becoming the norm. Look at your banquet programs for the before & after photos of a damaged – then repaired – bridge on the Eastside/Westside crossover trail. We agonized over repair options all summer. Then removed/replaced the bridge in stages. Once again, thanks to our many volunteers that showed up for bridge work.
Š In April we purchased a like-new 40-foot shipping container, then in July dozed a spot for it north of the warming house, and towed it into place. We now can store almost all of our equipment on site – this is a big relief to our many volunteers that can recall loading/unloading/transporting heavy equipment on icy ground. Thanks to Sam Behrends for supervising this process, and moving equipment into the shipping container.
Š We worked closely with the Rusk County Forestry Department and the DNR to complete several days of major dozing & backhoe work on the Eastside. We spent a fair amount of money on the backhoe work, and it seems well worth it – we again will be able to ski the trail we call ‘Washout’ that runs from 4-19. Thanks to our volunteers that spread grass seed to control erosion and enhance grouse habitat. We think you’ll be pleased with the results. [[Contact Tom if you’d like a map of the active timber sales]]
Š Thanks goes to the Birkie Foundation. We are one of 15 organizations to receive a grant ($600) from the Birkie Foundation. For us, it’s the 4th year in a row – quite an honor. The grant is awarded to organizations that promote cross-country skiing as a fun, energetic activity that is part of an active and healthy lifestyle.
Š Logging of the timber sale on the Eastside ridgeline was finally completed. Then we dozed a new trail that allows us to abandon two bridges on the part of the s-curve trail that is erosion prone. Look at the map on your banquet programs that shows the new trail – it runs from 00 to 2A, it’s 700 meters long, and should offer a great new route to/from the ridge line. Ski it uphill to get to know it; the downhill intersection at 2A will be a challenge.
Š Two parts of the Eastside may be logged this winter. The ‘wood turtle’ timber sale near #21 requires more work before it’s done – hopefully the timing of the logging won’t interfere with our grooming. A large timber sale on the eastern most trails will be logged in a manner to minimize disruption of our skiing.
Š Remember, the entire trail system is non-motorized. If you find motorized vehicles on the trails, educate their operators to the contrary. And consider reporting this to the Rusk County Sheriff’s department.
Equipment – 2014 Gator, 2017 Arctic Cat Bearcat Groomers Special snowmobile, 2 rollers, 3 Tidd Tech implements including a 6-foot implement purchased in September 2016, ABR trail compactor, & various state of the art attachments
Š Our 2014 John Deere Gator with Camoplast Tracks & enclosed cab (cost of $23,000) is a great asset – thanks again for everyone’s financial support in helping us afford the Gator. Note: we’re still looking for volunteers to paint a catchy logo on the shipping container where the Gator is stored.
Š In March we purchased a new snowmobile – an Arctic Cat Bearcat Groomers’ Special at a cost of about $14,000. It comes highly praised, we hope it lives up to its billing. We sold our 2012 Skandic snowmobile in April.
Š For working the snow surface, our Tidd Tech implements (called “G2s”) do most of the work. They measure 6, 8 & 9 feet wide with the outside flaps extended, & each works well in different snow conditions.
Š The donation pole in the parking lot last winter added $2200 in revenue despite the short and disappointing ski season – thanks for spreading the word about the Blue Hills Trail – please remind visitors to plug that donation pole!
Š This fall’s membership & fundraising drive has already generated more than $14,000 ($5900 from business donors, $4200 from individual donors, & $3900 in membership fees) – that’s about 70% of our budget – and your help at tonight’s banquet will raise another $2000 - $3000 – thank you!!! Whenever you can, please thank the many businesses that support the Blue Hills Trail (listed on banquet program).
Š Our ‘old’ snowmobile trailer underwent extensive repair this past spring – new tires/wheels, new wheel bearings, welding repair of the frame including heavier replacement aluminum rails, new decking, painting of the decking, and addition of protective ski glides on the deck.
Š Carpenter ants invaded the spray foam insulation of our storage shed in June. They were successfully eradicated after we sought professional advice.
Š We plan on renaming the Eastside trails next year – with the goal of developing a logical system for old and new users of the trails. We’ll probably number the core loop sequentially, then pick a name for every trail that is not part of the core loop. Get creative and think of names for some of your favorite trails. We’ll invite everyone to a ‘party’ to generate our new trail names. Then we’ll need volunteers to put up the new signage. Also, if one of you is adept with GPS mapping, next year we’d like your help in generating a new map for the Eastside trails.