MINNESOTA – The Northern Lights Nordic Ski Club was selected as the USDA Forest Service - Region 9 volunteer and service award recipient in the area of “Enduring Service.”
The Club has been a valuable partner with the Chippewa National Forest for over five years. Volunteers from the club groom and help maintain two Forest Service cross-country ski systems on National Forest land totaling twenty-six miles. In addition, volunteer members groom and clear five other trail systems encompassing sixty-six miles in the Grand Rapids and Deer River area. The club promotes cross-county skiing as a life-long, healthy activity in an area where winter lasts for a very long time. Many club members also volunteer with the local youth ski league, teaching hundreds of area kids to ski and providing significantly reduced cost rental equipment; all while actively enjoying the beauty of nature in the great outdoors.
In addition to grooming and clearing the trails and reporting hazards such as downed trees to district recreation staff, club members have also helped with special projects. In 2017, they volunteered to remove an existing bridge that needed replacement. A six-person crew arrived with crowbars, pry bars, hammers and utility vehicles to dismantle the structure and haul it to the trailhead parking lot. In one day, they pulled the old bridge apart, hauled out and the site cleaned up and ready for Forest Service engineers and recreation team to install the new bridge.
The Northern Lights Nordic Ski Club is made up of volunteers from the communities of Deer River and Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The Club is an active, health-promoting local organization dedicated to ensuring the public has a variety of safe and enjoyable cross-country skiing opportunities throughout the Forest and Itasca County.
The USDA Forest Service recognizes partners and volunteers for their contributions in five categories: Citizen Stewardship & Partnerships, Cultural Diversity, Enduring Service, Leadership, and Restoration.