Group of Nordic skiers going up a small hill
March 31, 2021
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Meet the North Star Ski Touring Club

With the pandemic driving people outdoors this winter, new enthusiasm built around cross country skiing. The North Star Ski Touring Club (NSSTC) is here to foster this newfound interest in the sport and get folks involved in stewardship of Nordic ski trails.

While the pandemic made things difficult for the group, cancelling their planned ski outings and multi-day trips, they were able to maintain some level of activity. They migrated their board meetings to Zoom and hosted a featured speaker each month. This online format proved popular, as more people from across the state were able to join. Their membership remained steady, and they look forward to bringing new people into the fold as activities start up again.

Despite the pandemic, one significant way the group still supports stewardship of ski trails is through their grant program. Local ski clubs or groups can apply for funding to support projects such as trail grooming efforts, Nordic ski equipment or facilities, or engagement programs. A big focus of the program is to promote synergy among partners, encouraging collaboration with cities, counties, and regional ski areas. The NSSTC typically issues 7-8 grants a year from $500-$5,000. Applications are due March 31 each year, so the review process is underway for 2021. Scroll through the pictures for a few examples of past grant projects.

Trail groomer moving along ski trail
Banadad Trail Association: Repair parts for groomer
map of Sugarbush ski trail system
Sugarbush Trail Association: New durable trail maps.
MN Youth Ski League: Creation of an online education program for parents and volunteer coaches
snowmobile pulling a trail groomer
Agassiz ELC: Trail groomer and connector to snowmobile.
pile of ski bindings
Rochester Active Sports Club: 110 new bindings to upgrade skis for use by students.

Over the years, the group has transformed from focus solely on Nordic skiing to a year-round organization hosting hiking, paddling, and biking outings. They also organize volunteer opportunities to enhance the trails and areas where their trips take place. These stewardship activities may include: trimming trees, building a bridge, opening new trail connections, cleaning debris, and more. These stewardship activities are supported by a tool inventory and trail fund to reimburse volunteers for milage.

With optimism creeping back about getting together and hosting events, the Club is in planning mode for the year to come. They are cautiously adding events to the calendar, with COVID safety protocols in place. Members have really missed these in-person events, especially the connections made with each other, the natural outdoors spaces, and the nearby communities and businesses.

Two volunteers work to clear trail from tree branches with a hand saw

Working to clear a trail from branches.

Want to connect?

Other friends groups may be interested in connecting with the North Star Ski Touring Club. Here are some ways you might do that:

  • Apply for a grant. (details)
  • Reach out to partner on a stewardship event at your park or trail. (contact)
  • Connect to host a hike, bike, or paddle outing at your park or trail. (contact)

Content contributed by: Bruce Nelson and Ron Brand, North Star Ski Touring Club

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