Quite a few people wrote in their support to USFS on this matter and some didnt mind it getting published here. We thought it would be informational and interesting as well as useful in the future when questions about grooming and its uses come up.
Sir, I am Norm Vance of Pagosa Springs,Co. I have groomed nordic trails on the Pagosa Ranger District for a quarter of a century. You are currently hearing arguments for and against grooming nordic trails. I have found the folks mostly against grooming are the purist, or consider themselves the purist, of the sport. Most of them are in very good physical shape. They also can be loud and speak often defending their ideal of the sport. The last attribute they harbor is not being very thoughtful of their fellow skiers who may not be in perfect shape or as dedicated, they forget they were novices once. There should be space for novices and casual skiers and a groomed trail is it.
I found some of the purist skiers were won over when they realized they could use the groomed trail get to new places for breaking trial cross country. Some learned to enjoy the groomed trails for ski skating, not possible on ungroomed snow. Some will never be won over and they will bitch about it as they ski down the groomed trail!
Here in Pagosa we now have a club with its own grooming equipment and a network of five major groomed trails. The Forest Service has been very helpful with permissions, new signs, trail work and they groom one of the trails all winter with Forest Service equipment and employees. Nordic skiing along with snowshoeing has grown rapidly and is now a strong part of our winter economy.
I know the swnordicski people as they come here for skiing. They seem to be good and dedicated people. I have no axe to grind either way, I have never stood on skis.
Norm Vance, Editor PagosaSprings.com - member Town Tourism Committee - Director, Tourism Ambassador Program
I would like to place a strong recommendation in favor of adding groomed trails to the Albuquerque ski area, in addition to existing backcountry trails. My reasons are as follows:
1. Groomed trails make cross country skiing more accessible to those new to the sport. They are easier than backcountry trails to navigate, and require less expensive equipment (e.g. skis with no metal edge, lighter boots, for example).
2. Groomed trails are safer for more groups, by providing a combination of flat surface and ski-grooved areas. Newbies can learn in the grooves then graduate to flat surface skate skiing or back country skiing.
3. Groomed trails provide an excellent source of winter fitness and fun for those who do not downhill ski.
4. Skate skiing and cross country skiing is becoming more and more popular, and is a strong sports tourism attraction for a community. Canmore, Canada, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Leadville, Colorado all have excellent groomed groove and skate as well as cross country trail systems, among many other communities.
5. Cross country skiing on groomed trails is attracting aging baby boomers who want a safe, winter outdoors experience, without the risks of downhill skiing ( I am one of them!). this is a large demographic to be served.
Los Alamos benefits greatly from our groomed skiing opportunities. Our local ski club takes care of the grooming in cooperation with the Forest Service, a great model for other communities.
I hope that these points will encourage the Forest Service to include groomed skiing in the Albuquerque area. It would be a great addition to the community.
Thank you for your consideration.
As a member of the SouthWest Nordic Ski Club (SWNSC), I am writing in support of the proposal put forth by the UNM ski coach and others, which is strongly supported by SWNSC, to provide additional groomed ski trails (both skate and classic) in Northern New Mexico (NNM). We certainly have plenty of wilderness hiking trails in NNM, and my wife and I take advantage of these to hike in the summer and snowshoe in the winter. Also, I have gone on many backcountry ski trips to the high country using these trails. What we don't have very much of in NNM is groomed trails, which are favored by a growing population of sports enthusiasts who like to test themselves in fast-ski conditions, which require grooming. Right now, for this activity, I essentially use only the groomed nordic trails on Pajarito Mountain, near Los Alamos. Building additional trails in the Jemez and the Sandias would make the sport available to a larger population; and, if the number of participants grows as expected, it would provide commercial opportunities for additional shops to sell the particular ski gear used in this sport. The added economic boost would certainly be welcomed in this bleak economy.
Thank you for considering my views on this proposal.