SHERIDAN – Recreators ended the winter sports season when the snow got too soft to play in, but that didn’t stop the Black Mountain Nordic Club from working year-round to ensure continued fun in the mountains Bighorn.
In the spring, summer, and early fall, BMNC President Nicholas Flores and a team of board members and volunteers work to clear trails at Cutler Hill and Sibley Lake for mountaineers. cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking. This year, recognizing the aging maintenance equipment, BMNC board members held a fundraiser to help replace equipment for the 21-year-old club.
“The way we look at it is once in a while, we’re going to have this big cycle where we’re going to have to raise a lot of funds because it’s with the old, with the new,” Flores said. “That’s where we are right now.”
Pam and John Standish donated $15,000 to the group, which he intended and still intends to match through private donations and larger donations from entities around Sheridan. Although not finalized yet, Flores said he expects the club to reach their goal of $30,000.
The funds will go directly towards the purchase of new maintenance equipment and, if subsequently available, a mobile heat hut for use at Cutler Hill. The Sibley Lake trails feature a heated cabin with two stoves and a ski rack and is where BMNC hosts their Moonlight Ski-Share events. Having a mobile warming hut – essentially a hut built on a trailer that stays put for the winter season but is not a permanent structure as agreed between the club and Bighorn National Forest staff.
“(The US Forest Service) is not a big fan of having more permanent structures on the mountain,” Flores said. “If anything, they want to reduce permanent structures…overall a (temporary structure) will be better and I think that could be really cool.”
The winter season went well for the club and other recreationists on the BNF trails, despite a few mechanical breakdowns. Flores felt increased attendance and encouraged more people to join the club, which demands a simple fee as its only stipulation. Flores said that although signs adorn the entrance to each trail, with no cell phone service at the sites, it remains inconvenient for people recreating on the trails to register as club members.
He said that with the service on the mountain, users could log into the website with a QR code and register as a member immediately before or directly after using the trails, whereas if they wait to receive cell service, it’s less likely to happen — not because they don’t want to, but because it’s inconvenient, Flores said.
Common misconceptions by trail users are that the Bighorn National Forest is solely responsible for maintaining the area, while Flores said it’s a partnership between the two entities – the federal agency and the local club. The two work together to maintain the areas, with permits and permissions coming from BNF for the club to use the space.
Members of the BMNC Board of Directors will be hosting trail cleanup days throughout the summer. To find out more about the club, visit blackmountainnordic.com.
Ashleigh Snoozy joined The Sheridan Press in October 2016 as a reporter before taking on the role of editor in November 2018. She is originally from Colorado and graduated from Biola University in Los Angeles.