We have a great new section of trail for skiing. On the West Side of our trail system, beginning this winter, we have permission to close off and groom Excelsior Road for skiing. Look at the map (in the images below) to get an idea where it's located.
Excelsior Road has great potential for skiing, but closing it for skiing upset the hunters/trappers that have used that road for decades. To paraphrase Jeremy Koslowski (Rusk County Forest Administrator), we all want to play in the same sandbox, we just need to figure out how to get along.
At the December 2019 monthly meeting of the Rusk County Forestry Committee, the wintertime use of Excelsior Road was on the agenda. After much discussion, a new compromise for shared use was passed by the committee. Please read on...
- Out of control beaver activity on the West Side trails in August was highly discouraging
- Because of the beavers, we pictured a future time when we might be unable to maintain parts of the West Side - including the East/West crossover trail
- The idea of closing and grooming Excelsior Road was discussed
- A proposal to close and groom Excelsior Road during the winter ski season was presented by BHTA to the Forestry Committee at their September meeting; it passed unanimously
- With the unexpected early arrival of wintry weather in late November, we started grooming Excelsior Road approximately December 5 during the muzzleloader deer hunt season
- Vehicle traffic continued on Excelsior Road despite signs requesting it be considered non-motorized
- After discussions with Jeremy K, we decided to hold off on more grooming until the antlerless deer hunt ended December 15
- The evening of December 15, we again groomed Excelsior Road and also arranged for a large berm to be snowplowed into place - effectively blocking car/truck access where Excelsior Road meets the Firelane
- Hunters expressed their concerns to the Rusk County Forestry Department
December 18, 2019 meeting of the Forestry Committee
- One of our officers represented BHTA and sat next to the three hunters in attendance
- The hunters don't want to lose access to the many acres along Excelsior Road where for years they've hunted with their dogs; hunted coyote & rabbit through the winter; bow hunt deer into early January; trap during the winter
- There was a reasonable exchange of ideas, BHTA tried to represent our membership
- Forestry Committee then unanimously passed a resolution to allow limited motorized access during the winter ski season - allowing ATVs and snowmobiles on the south side of the road, with the north side reserved for ski trail grooming
- BHTA continued the dialogue with the hunters outside the meeting room
- We're going to try sharing Excelsior Road and plan on continued exchange of ideas
We're going to give this a try (the newly passed resolution), and review the results at the January 2020 Forestry Committee meeting. Our officers are hoping to dialogue with the hunters and discuss various options prior to the January meeting. We respect their right to use the County Forest, and recognize their time in the out of doors is an example of a healthy activity - not unlike the hunting and trapping that many of our members enjoy.
Mid December conditions on the West Side are excellent. Don't let the idea of sharing Excelsior Road with ATVs & snowmobiles scare you away, we expect that traffic to be light. Ski Excelsior Road when you can, any feedback is welcome.
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