Damage to the wetland created a narrowing that was impossible for a groomer to get through on the Lone Mountain Ranch nordic ski trails, resulting in a closure. PHOTO BY JANA BOUNDS

Wetland destruction to impact cross country skiers

Indefinite closure to a section of trail off of Andesite Rd.

The Lone Mountain Ranch cross country ski trail section from intersection 33 to intersection 32 off of Andesite Road is now indefinitely closed. Describing it as unfortunate, Shea Shaughnessy, operations manager for Lone Mountain Ranch said that on initial inspection in November, they thought the trail could be routed around damage to the wetland. However, once the groomer began packing the trails this season, the damage proved too extensive to allow a path through lots 3 and 4 of the Northfork Creek Subdivision. 

The owner of the property claimed he attempted to clear a culvert and in the process, created 3-4 feet deep trenches before getting the mini excavator stuck. 

A slew of local and state organizations were notified. Of the government organizations at play, it seems the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) has jurisdiction. 

After denying LPL’s Freedom of Information Act request, US ACE senior paralegal specialist Stacey Andreason did confirm that an ACE site inspection had been conducted and no actions would be taken until Spring due to winter weather conditions. 

Although the property is mapped on the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Service wetland map: https://www.fws.gov/wetlands/data/mapper.html, it still may not fit all three qualifying criteria of hydrology, soil and vegetation to be a protected wetland. That determination will be made from the results of the site visit. 

 “We will still be able to groom from Tree Farm through Andesite, as well as from 33 toward Beaver Slide and Antler Ridge,” Shaughnessy said of the cross country trail system. 

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