Blue Hills Trail CONDITIONS
Tuesday - morning update
Click here for helpful maps that show our open trails.
Spring is here, there's lots of snow remaining.
Yesterday morning (Monday), the classic track was fairly well defined, with a mild-moderate amount of litter deposited by brisk winds over the weekend. Good classic skiing if you can tolerate the trail litter. As a spur-of-the-moment decision, the skate lane on the modified East Side Core Loop was touched up early Monday morning and provided good skate skiing. The side trails on the East Side (and Excelsior Road on the West Side) also had good skate skiing Monday. Beautiful first day of Spring with temps reaching the upper 30s.
A very destructive mid December ice storm (visit our blog for photos etc) shut down our trails for a short time. Fortunately we've been able to open 60% of our East Side trails, and Excelsior Road is open on the West Side.
Snowshoers: the Ridges Snowshoe Trail is cleared of tree damage, we prefer you use that as your first option. If snowshoeing on the groomed ski trail, please snowshoe well to the side. Click here for a blog post regarding the new 'Highland Loop'.
Autumn 2022, loggers cut a large timber sale on the East Side in the vicinity of the Otter Slide and Far East trails (those trails are the furthest 'east' trails). This winter loggers are hauling those logs to market using a route to the east and mostly separate from the ski trails. Click here for a map showing the involved trails.
March 17: 1" from blustery snow showers in the evening
March 16: 1/4" rain, then 1" windblown snow
grooming & MOWING
Grooming Report / Plans: Click here to see maps of the open trails
March 20 (Monday morning): touched up the skate lane on the modified East Side Core Loop.
March 17 (Friday evening): groomed the skate deck on all the open trails, and set classic track on the frequently traveled trails.
Blue Hills Trail Association Inc.
May 21, 2014 7:05 PM
Meeting called to order
by Dave Olsen, president, at 6:05 p.m. at Burdy's Bar and Grill (Weyerhaeuser, WI)
Officers: Ron Jasperson, Dave Olsen, Tom Paulsen
Members: Nels Curnow, Lisa Dobrowolski, Steve Gest, Bjorn Hanson, Frank Lowry, Jan Paulsen, Steve Porn, Jonathan Stanley, John Waldron
Non-members: Dan Bartels
Motion by Frank Lowry, second by Jonathan Stanley, to dispense with reading of the prior minutes and to accept the June 2013 minutes. Unanimously carried.
The fiscal year runs September 1 to August 31 inclusive. An interim budget report was presented by Tom Paulsen. Revenue ($21110.17) exceeded expenses ($17486.81) by $3623.36. Overall expenses were slightly above budget due to two items ($1200 repair of the 2008 Skandic snowmobile charging system, and $1100 replacement of the warming house furnace). Revenue was above budget thanks to successful banquet fundraising, our many donors, and a strong number of memberships; however, we are noticing a decrease in donations from individuals. Our bottom line shows a positive balance at this time (available cash) of $24115.43. Discussion was held. Motion was made by Jonathan Stanley to approve the Treasurer's report as presented, and seconded by Steve Gest. Unanimously carried.
- Election of officers
- Old Business
- Membership Fees
- New Business
- Designate committee members for the upcoming year
Election of Officers
The current officers agreed to serve another one-year term. Bjorn Hanson nominated Dave Olsen for president, Ron Jasperson for vice president, and Tom Paulsen for secretary/treasurer. This was seconded by Frank Lowry, and passed unanimously.
Fall banquet: held at Lehman's Supper Club in Rice Lake. Tom Paulsen reported that attendance was good, the food was great, and a wildlife presentation by DNR Naturalist Chris Cold was very enjoyable. The banquet was financially successful (raising $2900 from sales of silent auction items). The method used for prize distribution worked well (primarily silent auctions).
Blue Hills Ascent: no attempt at hosting a race this past year. Instead, a Ski for Free Day (potluck included) was held January 2014.
Website: those in attendance agreed the website remains very functional. Greater use of Facebook and Twitter has brought more attention to the Blue Hills Trail. We continue to provide business links (free of charge) to local donors in the business of ski/bike sales, and lodging. Suggestions for further improvement are always welcome.
Fundraising: we received good support from businesses ($5400), individual donations ($3400) dropped about $900. The donation pole in the parking lot was a little below target at $2191. Memberships (92) are at one of their highest levels, totaling $4400. The use of Amazon Associates (our members shopping at Amazon.com via our website) generated significant revenue ($470), and has the potential to grow significantly.
Equipment: costs ($3700) were over budget ($3000). There were many maintenance issues, including $1200 to repair the charging system of the 2008 Skandic snowmobile, the replacement of many batteries and the solar panel on the storage shed.
Grooming and trail maintenance:
- Eastside mowing was accomplished by Dan Bartels & County Forestry Dept, Westside mowed by County.
- Anticipated logging of Eastside didn’t materialize, thus no dozing was done.
- Work day in September had limited attendance but cleared most of the trails; individuals continued clearing trails during the fall.
- Grooming was handled mostly by Steve Gest with help from Jesse Wimer, Dan Bartels, Nels Curnow & Patty McGown, Ron Jasperson, Steve Porn, Jonathan Stanley, Tom Paulsen, and Bob Roach. Major damage from December 4th ice storm required 6 weeks of volunteer efforts (THANKS TO THE MANY VOLUNTEERS!) to open all the trails; a heavy wet snowfall on February 20th created more damage and shut down the trails until lots of volunteer work (AGAIN!) reopened the trails. The winter of 2013-14 saw near-record cold & near-record snowfall with uniformly good skiing after overcoming the ice storms. The last grooming was March 29th when the base was still very deep - it was an AMAZING winter!
- Three grooming lessons we learned this past winter: 1-absolutely avoid grooming if rain or wet snow is anticipated – the initial grooming in early December created an Eastside problem that took weeks to correct – and some trails never recovered because we weren’t able to groom widely to the edges; 2-always push the grooming to the edges, especially early in the season; 3-on lesser used trails, it’s OK to let snow accumulate & settle for a couple weeks before grooming – those trails may set up surprisingly well when finally groomed.
Snowshoe trail: further enlarged & improved by John Kann & Jerry Schneider, well received by visitors.
Signage: Rusk County printed and laminated the necessary replacement maps for the entire trail system. Tom Paulsen & Frank Lowry replaced the EastSide maps/signage; Tom Paulsen & Dan Bale placed fresh maps on the Westside.
Warming house: new furnace installed August 2013 ($1100); caulking was again deferred; under the guidance of Sam Behrends, the Bruce High School Ag Dept power washed & stained warming house May 2014.
Current annual dues are $35 for individuals, $55 for families. Dues were last increased in 2008, expenses beyond our control have been rising, individual donations have decreased. A recent email poll of our membership showed 93% in favor of raising the dues by $10. After a fairly lengthy discussion, Frank Lowry moved to raise the dues by $5, this was seconded by Steve Gest, and passed. Then Tom Paulsen moved to raise the dues by $10, this was seconded by Nels Curnow, and passed (7 yes, 4 no). For purposes of clarification, Bjorn Hanson moved to raise our dues to $45 for individuals, $65 for families, this was seconded by Steve Gest, and passed with one person opposed. Trailhead fees were briefly discussed, with the decision to leave them unchanged (suggesting a $5 daily donation). By not raising daily fees, this will allow many diverse individuals to access the trail system despite the sluggish economy. It's our hope that businesses and individuals doing well financially will continue to provide generous donations.
Fall Banquet: the approach for the 2014 fall fundraiser was discussed. We again will focus on a limited number of major prizes and silent auction items, and one or two major raffles. Nels Curnow volunteered Patty McGown to head the banquet committee. Those in attendance agreed Lehman's Supper Club (Rice Lake) would again be a suitable location for the fund raising banquet.
Blue Hills Ascent: there was a long discussion of hosting races and similar events. Due to a history of low turnouts, those in attendance did not feel that resuming the race was an option. The occasional 'Ski Clinics' hosted by the Thatchers have been well appreciated, we will continue to support this. Additionally, trying to coordinate 1-2 "Full Moon" ski events would be a good way to attract members/visitors.
Website: Tom Paulsen's goal is to keep it functional, straight forward, and to update frequently during ski season. Tom is interested in training one of our members to take over the website - he will email the membership seeking a volunteer.
Equipment: Our 2008 Skandic snowmobile is ready for replacement (7246 km on the odometer), Tom Paulsen will advertise its availability on Skinnyski, ABR, and groomers' chat line. After researching options this past winter, it's apparent many trail systems like using tracked ATVs/UTVs for grooming whenever possible. For our trail system, we think the ideal mix is one tracked vehicle, and one workhorse snowmobile. Our 2012 Skandic snowmobile (5481 km on the odometer) will be ready for replacement after 1-2 more seasons - we plan on replacing it with an Arctic Cat Groomer's Special snowmobile. In the meantime, thanks to a successful pledge drive in April (we raised $10,000 from our members), we are able to afford a John Deere Gator with enclosed heated cab & Camoplast tracks – to be used for summertime mowing & wintertime grooming. It’s on order, and should be ready soon. It will be stored in a recently purchased shipping container near the already existing storage shed. We've purchased a locking system that should provide good security. The grooming implements are in good shape, Dan Bartels remains available to help with equipment repairs. Purchase of a compaction drag / leveler is recommended, this would cost $2000 – we can wait until midwinter to see how we’re doing financially.
Fundraising: Tom and Jan Paulsen will again spearhead the fall fundraising with help from Dick Pebler representing the Rice Lake area. As in the past, their appeals will focus on supportive individuals and businesses, and BHTA members. Tom Paulsen requested help stuffing envelopes for the August mailing - Dave Olsen and Ron Jasperson volunteered.
- Steve Porn volunteered to handle summer/fall trail maintenance needs, and will refer to Carolyn Chatterton's 'Trail Timeline'.
- For two years we've anticipated summertime logging of an Eastside timber sale. When that happens, we will need to coordinate dozing of a new trail between 2A & the S-curve (to include culvert placement) - Dave Putnam (one of our members) has agreed to help DNR dozer operator Gary Sarauer with the culvert. Tom Paulsen, Jonathan Stanley, Paul Teska and Gary Sarauer flagged that new trail last summer.
- Rusk County usually mows the WestSide, and portions of the EastSide that can withstand the weight of their tractor. For the damp (soft) areas on the EastSide, we plan on using volunteer labor operating our newly purchased Gator to pull our trail mower. Tom Paulsen will send an email message searching for volunteers.
- Grooming and mowing implements will again be stored by one or more of our club members (names withheld from website) as a donation to the club.
- The Westside Trails are very popular with dog owners. Those in attendance felt this needs to become more widely known - Tom Paulsen will spread the word on various websites such as Skinnyski and Norwiski.
Grooming team: Steve Gest expects to be our chief groomer again this next winter. Dan Bartels to remain instrumental with maintaining equipment. Same group of available groomers, having added Bob Roach and Adam Brockman toward the end of this last season. Our goal remains quality grooming of the entire trail system with major emphasis on the core loop. The usual fall meeting between officers and groomers is anticipated.
Warming house: Exterior caulking was discussed - Tom Paulsen will contact Lee Westlund (the warming house contractor) for his opinion regarding caulking.
Work Day: to be selected later this summer.
Ski Clinic: those in attendance appreciate the occasional ski clinics conducted by Steve and Jyneen Thatcher. Hopefully they can continue offering these teaching sessions.
Signage: annual replacement of the intersection maps needs to be done late fall or early winter. Each fall, Tom Paulsen contacts the Rusk County Extension Office to arrange printing of current maps. Tom Paulsen will seek volunteers for map replacement this fall.
Snowshoe trail: to our knowledge, John Kann will continue to maintain and/or revise the snowshoe trail. All agreed that snowshoers using the groomed ski trails need to be reminded to stay to the side.
Warming house propane heat: we switched to Sheldon Coop as the provider June 2010, they are delivering a good service. We plan on filling the tank this summer (June) when rates are the lowest.
Insurance: no changes anticipated, no discussion of this item.
Position of secretary / treasurer: Tom Paulsen has held this position for close to ten years and would appreciate the right person taking over.
To be carried over with additions as highlighted in bold
- Banquet Committee: Patty McGown (chair)
- Fun Day / Full Moon Ski Committee: open (chair)
- Equipment Committee: Dan Bartels, Steve Gest
- Fundraising: Jan Paulsen, Tom Paulsen, Dick Pebler
- Grooming and Trail Maintenance Committee: Jonathan Stanley (chair), Frank Lowry, Steve Porn
- Ski Clinic Committee: open (chair)
- Snowshoe Trail: John Kann (chair)
- Website: Tom Paulsen (chair)
Motion to adjourn by Steve Gest, second by Jonathan Stanley. Adjourned at 7:35 p.m.
Taken by Tom Paulsen, Secretary
A Listing of Active Committees
- Banquet Committee
- Fun Day / Full Moon Ski Committee
- Equipment Committee
- Fundraising Committee
- Grooming and Trail Maintenance Committee
- Ski Clinic
- Snowshoe Trail
- Website Committee