Blackfoot Valley Dispatch - The Blackfoot Valley's News Source Since 1980

By Kate Radford
BVD 

Outdoor Club works with local landowner to expand cross country ski trail options

Club also hopes to expand summer offerings for kids

 

Roger Dey

A new section of cross country ski trail loops through private property just north of Sculpture in the Wild.

Groomed cross-country ski trails around the Lincoln School track and through Blackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild and the adjacent Forest Service property received an expansion onto private property this winter, providing greater access to Lincoln skiers and snowshoers.

The Lincoln Outdoor Club works with the Lincoln Ranger District every year to groom trails for students to snow-shoe and cross-country ski on.

"They have been terrific at keeping up with the trail maintenance, and we try not task them to groom the trail more than once every two weeks or so," said Karyn Good, one of the coordinators of the Outdoor Club.

The west entrance to BPSW is the middle of a figure eight loop of groomed trails. Lincoln 5th grade teacher Stacey Mannix said until this year the trails have included a beginning loop for younger students and a larger loop for the older students, but the larger loop wasn't quite big enough. Mannix worked with Tel Menard, who manages the Sampsen Ranch, to expand the trails.

Mannix and Menard approached the Sampsens about running trails onto their ranch land near BPSW over the winter to expand access for the students. The Sampsens agreed to let the Outdoor Club use the property at no charge, and Menard sat down with Josh Lattin, the Lincoln Ranger District's resource specialist, to lay out a path for grooming.

"I haven't been yet, but Sue [Lattin] says it's a great loop," said Mannix.

Although the Outdoor Club helped establish and coordinate the maintenance of the ski trails as part of their effort to get students outdoors and active during the winter months, they are accessible to the public.

The Outdoor Club takes the students outside for activities ranging from ice-skating to snow-shoeing to field trips once every week or two. On a recent Friday, Mannix said, "The Outdoor Club went on a wonderful trip to the top of MacDonald Pass and went skiing on the Nordic trails they have groomed there. Then we went to the Broadwater Hot Springs and then drove home. We were all very tired. It was 19 kids, Karyn Good, Christy Maharg, and myself."

"The Outdoor Club was originally established some 20 years ago by George Pierce and Gary Roberson with the intention of keeping kids out of trouble by giving them something to do," Good said.

Those club activities eventually faded away, but about four years ago Good and Sue Lattin started a conversation with then Lincoln Schools Superintendent Carla Anderson about the possibility of bringing the Club back. After reviewing insurance and discussing it with the school board, the stipulation was put in place that at least one school staff member needed to attend each outing to allow the Club to operate under the school's nonprofit umbrella.

It was about that time that Mannix got involved with the Outdoor Club.

Roger Dey

The trail winds through the open Ponderosa Pine stands on Forest Service property.

"Sue and Karyn wrote a grant and got it started because they wanted to get kids outdoors," she said. "To tie it to the school, they needed a volunteer, and I said I can do it."

With funding for the POUNCE program eliminated, Good hopes the Outdoor Club will be able to fill part of that gap this summer. "We hope to expand the Club to summertime activities such as backpacking, camping, and fly fishing."

Provided they can find volunteers and school staff for activities, Good said the Outdoor Club will likely be able to provide one or two outings this summer and will look to expand that for 2021.

"The Outdoor Club has been successful because of generous donations from community members and our great partnerships with the school, USFS, and the many volunteers and school staff, in particular Stacey Mannix that help make getting the kids outdoors possible," said Good.

 

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