Hiking: hiking conditions are good, peak color has passed, enjoyable fall colors remain.
Biking: the West Side trails offer the best biking, that area tends to be the driest (but BE SURE TO READ 'Important Updates' below). The East Side trails are surprisingly dry this summer, and more 'bike-able' than usual. On the East Side, after rainy weather avoid the trails far to the east, they usually are damp and soft.
Bugs: insect activity is low.
A 50-100 meter segment of West Side trail adjacent to a beaver dam is soggy between intersections H-I; you can walk your bike through this spot - but anticipate wet shoes if you do.
Due to recent logging, on the East Side, if the trails are damp avoid Rut Road between intersections 20-21-22. Click here for details
Due to active logging, on the West Side, avoid the loop between intersections D-E-D, and watch for logging traffic from A-B-C-D.
April 24, 2021: snow showers
Summertime mowing began in late June on the East Side trails. East Side mowing was completed on July 25th, and touch-up mowing was done after that. The West Side was mowed in the last half of July. Click here for a map showing East Side mowing details.
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: Lynette Anderson, Dan Bale, Dan Bjugstad, Mike Cragg, Nels Curnow, Lisa Dobrowolski, Patty McGown, Jan Paulsen, Steve Porn, Dennis Villeneuve, John Ziemer
Motion by Ron Jasperson, second by Lisa Dobrowolski, to dispense with reading of the prior minutes and to accept the May 2014 minutes. Unanimously carried.
The fiscal year runs September 1 to August 31 inclusive. An interim budget report was presented by Tom Paulsen. Revenue ($45346.95) exceeded expenses ($42569.13) by $2777.82. Overall expenses were well above budget due to equipment purchases/maintenance, and purchase of a shipping container for storage of the Gator; mowing expenses decreased because we used all volunteer labor. Revenue was well above budget thanks to $11400 pledged April 2014 by 30 individuals toward the purchase of the Gator - plus successful banquet fundraising, and significant increases in business/individual donations, memberships, trailhead receipts - along with $6000 from the sale of our 2008 Skandic snowmobile. On the downside, we are noticing a decrease in revenue from shoppers using Amazon.com via our website. Our bottom line shows a positive balance at this time (available cash) of $26893.25. Discussion was held. Motion was made by Mike Cragg to approve the Treasurer's report as presented, and seconded by John Ziemer. Unanimously carried.
Election of Officers
The current officers agreed to serve another one-year term. Patty McGown nominated Dave Olsen for president, Ron Jasperson for vice president, and Tom Paulsen for secretary/treasurer. This was seconded by Nels Curnow, and passed unanimously.
Fall banquet: held at Lehman's Supper Club in Rice Lake. Patty McGown reported that attendance was good (55), the food was delicious, and Bob Unbehaun's presentation "Paddle the Puddle" was thoroughly enjoyed. The banquet was financially successful (raising $2800 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, the costs to host a small race remain prohibitive. A "Fun Day on the Trails" (a potluck moonlight ski) was held Friday March 6, 2015. It was well attended (approximately 30 participants from wide ranging locales), temps and snow conditions were ideal, food was great, a roaring fire and Tiki lighting added to the mood, and forecast clouds were replaced by clear skies and moonlight. Truly a memorable evening.
Website: those in attendance agreed the website remains very functional. The Rice Lake server that hosted our website (Tice Technologies) was hacked in December 2014. Malware was discovered on their server, and our website was briefly shut down. Fortunately, our website itself was never compromised. Within a few days, our website was moved to a new host; switching to this more secure host will cost about $130 per year. This also was an ideal time to redesign the website using a different software platform - many thanks to Kristine Paulsen (Missoula, MT) for volunteering her tech-savvy skills and artistic touches with the website redesign - which now includes a mobile site. The website remains very useful in providing info for members and visitors, and we are increasingly using Facebook and Twitter to attract visitors 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 of our internet presence are always welcome.
Fundraising: fundraising was highly rewarding this past year. We received great support from the April 2014 'Gator pledge drive' ($11400). For the year, business donations increased by $2400 ($7800), individual donations increased by $1800 ($5200), trailhead donations set a record ($4000), we sold our 2008 snowmobile for $6000, memberships increased from 92 to 94 households ($5400) despite raising membership fees by $10 - this fee increase generated a $1000 increase in revenue. Revenue from shoppers visiting Amazon.com via our website dropped off ($155 this past year, $470 the prior year).
Equipment: not unexpectedly the May 2014 purchase of the John Deere Gator with Camoplast tracks ($23150) increased equipment costs ($28840) well over budget ($3000). Many maintenance issues included: rewiring of all the grooming implements to simplify hookups; extension hitch for Gator; $550 for thorough autumn maintenance of Camoplast tracks; $300 to repair clutch in 2012 Skandic snowmobile; $675 to replace snow comb and extension flaps on medium G2. During the grooming season, monthly periodic service of the Gator was handled at no charge by Steve Gest, Ron Jasperson, Tom Paulsen, and Steve Porn. New purchases included: $600 for gooseneck hitch and ball mount for medium G2 and Skandic; $1600 for ABR 54" compaction drag with one set of 12" anti berm wings. Not included in this past fiscal year was a $1200 service fee at Cameron Tractor Central in April 2015 for end-of-season service on Gator including installation of front flood lights ($350) on the brush guard. The major costly item on the Gator service was replacement (preventive maintenance) of the Camoplast hub bearings ($600 including $150 parts, $450 labor).
Grooming and trail maintenance:
Snowshoe trail: further improved by John Kann, Jerry Schneider, Dan Bjugstad, Jim and Mary Jenkins.
Current annual dues are $45 for individuals, $65 for families. Dues were increased by $10 in October 2014, the number of memberships remained stable, and the increase resulted in $1000 of increased revenue. After a brief discussion, John Ziemer moved to keep the annual dues at $45 for individuals, $65 for families, this was seconded by Dan Bale, and passed unanimously. Trail head fees were discussed at length, with the decision to leave them unchanged (suggesting users donate based on their level of enjoyment, suggesting a $5 daily donation per person as a minimum). By not raising daily fees, this will allow many diverse individuals to access the trail system and help fulfill our mission as a non-profit organization. We trust that businesses and individuals doing well financially will continue to provide generous donations.
Fall Banquet: the approach for the annual fall fundraising banquet was discussed. We again will offer many silent auction items, and one or two major raffles. Patty McGown agreed to again 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. The date of November 7th has been set aside at Lehman’s in Rice Lake. A potluck at the warming house remains an alternative approach for future fundraisers.
Blue Hills Ascent vs Trail Fun Day: due to a history of low turnouts not covering the expenses, those in attendance did not feel that resuming the race was an option. We will try to coordinate 1-2 "Full Moon" ski events as a good way to socialize while attracting members/visitors. The occasional 'Ski Clinics' hosted by the Thatchers have been well appreciated, we will continue to support this.
Website: Tom Paulsen's goal is to keep it functional, straight forward, and to update frequently during ski season. Tom enjoys handling the website, but also is interested in training one of our members to take over the website - he will email the membership seeking a volunteer.
Equipment: we put about 2000 km (260 hours) on the Gator this past year (its first year). The 2012 Skandic SWT snowmobile received limited use this past winter, adding only about 420 km to its total (5900 km at end of winter). At this rate, the snowmobile won't need to be replaced for another 2-4 years. We have no idea of the life expectancy of the Gator, but plan on providing periodic maintenance per the manual (lubrication of drive line and tracks at 50 hour intervals, oil changes at 100 hour intervals) and thorough annual maintenance to probably include replacement of the Camoplast hub bearings. Dan Bartels is modifying the medium G2 by adding the recently purchased gooseneck hitch. No new equipment purchases anticipated this next year.
Fundraising: Tom and Jan Paulsen will again spearhead the fall fundraising in the Ladysmith area, with help from Dick Pebler representing the Rice Lake area. As in the past, fundraising appeals will focus on supportive individuals and businesses, and BHTA members. Tom Paulsen requested help stuffing envelopes for the August mailing - Lynette Anderson, Dan Bale, Dan Bjugstad, and Dave Olsen volunteered.
Grooming team: Steve Gest expects to be our chief groomer again this next winter. We have commitments from the same group of available groomers, having added Mike Cragg and Dave Putnam as backups this last season. Hopefully Dan Bartels can help maintain equipment. Our goal remains quality grooming of the entire trail system with major emphasis on the Eastside core loop. The usual fall meeting between officers and groomers is anticipated.
Annual Fall 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.
Snowshoe trail: John Kann will continue to maintain and/or revise the snowshoe trail. Using an app on his phone, Dan Bjugstad has recently created a GPS map of the snowshoe trail and will forward this to Tom Paulsen for possible use on the website and trail maps.
Insurance: no changes anticipated, no discussion of this item.
Position of secretary / treasurer: Tom Paulsen has held this position for 10+ years and would appreciate the right person taking over. Tom will send an email to the membership seeking interested individuals.
Other: Dan Bale suggested we consider allowing snow bikes (fat tire bikes) to use the Blue Hills Trail during the ski season. Our current policy does not allow snow bikes. A lengthy discussion included options such as allowing snow bikes on a limited portion of the trails; or a single trial day of snow bike use; or encouraging snow bike enthusiasts to construct and groom their own trails. Our officers are not enthused about opening the ski trails to snow bikes, but will review options with a couple of our members (Mark Bittner and Frank Lowry) that have previously shown interest in the use of snow bikes.
To be carried over with additions as highlighted in bold
Motion to adjourn by Jan Paulsen, second by Patty McGown. Adjourned at 7:40 p.m.
Taken by Tom Paulsen, Secretary
A Listing of Active Committees