Feb 222014
 

Along Dann Parker RoadVirginia Wood

Along Dann Parker Road

Like most of you, today I was outside soaking in all the sun I could — on Groton’s cross country ski trails. In the winter, I think Groton’s trails are the best around. Today, as with most days, I skied Dann Parker Road, which is a paper road that winds through the Wharton Plantation. The trail was beautifully packed by snowmobilers, and I didn’t see another soul, just footprints from one human and countless dogs. And that got me thinking — I think we need to do more as a town to promote winter ecotourism.

Specifically:

  • Work with local snowmobilers to make sure trails in town are packed, in the same manner that highway employees plow our roads.
  • Restrict hours when snowmobilers can be on trails but give them access to all trails.
  • Erect locked fee boxes several hundred yards in on popular trails.
  • Develop and distribute a trails map specifically targeted for cross-country skiing.
  • Work with local merchants to pay for map, and use map to promote businesses.

Benefits:

  • Trails will be maintained and groomed.
  • Revenue from people going out of town to go skiing will remain in town.
  • Locals will learn to appreciate even more the beauty of Groton in all seasons.
  • Generate income for trail maintenance and administration. Perhaps the money could be administered by the Trails Committee or CPC. I suspect there are enough organizations in town that could absorb the administration of such a tiny fund of money. For nonprofit organizations, like the New England Forestry, that have extensive trail networks, any revenue raised on their property would be their own.
  • Generate additional business for local entrepreneurs from not only locals staying in town for recreational opportunities but also from other communities coming to Groton to enjoy our trails.

Along Dann Parker RoadVirginia Wood

Along Dann Parker Road

The other day, on TalkAbout Groton, someone asked about the best place to cross country ski. There were lots of responses about a place in New Hampshire, and Carlisle, but very few stating how great our own trails are. I must admit, I had written a response, but then erased it. I like going out and not seeing another person. That, however, is selfish, and there certainly are miles of trails that we all can enjoy. I worry, especially with the New England Forestry land, that does not have any conservation restrictions on it, that unless we develop demand for outdoor recreational places, we are going to lose it to development. That possibility terrifies me.

This idea could generate additional small business opportunities, from outdoor guides to biathlon competitions. It was mentioned that Carlisle hangs lanterns on its trail at night. Funding that is generated could be used to do the same on a different trails on pre-specified nights of the winter. I think the Groton Conservation Trust tried this idea during the last full moon, and if promoted on a more regular basis, would likely develop a strong following.

Virginia Wood

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