Mountain Trails lends a hand to its open space partner | ParkRecord.com

Mountain Trails lends a hand to its open space partner

Sarah Moffitt, The Park Record

The Mountain Trails Foundation maintains over 40 kilometers of cross-country trails in Summit County, but according to Executive Director Charlie Sturgis, one his favorites is threatened, prompting the Mountain Trails Foundation to donate a portion of its Live PC, Give PC prize to the Summit Land Conservancy.

A "very cool" five-kilometer trail called ‘The Land of Oz’ goes through a portion of Round Valley known as the Osguthorpe Farm, according to Sturgis. Summit Land Conservancy is trying to raise $1 million to protect the 120 acre-parcel, extending from the top of PC hill into the southeast corner of Round Valley, which will be preserved for alfalfa fields in the summer and cross-country skiing trails in the winter.

With $400,000 more to raise before Summit Land can place a conservation easement on the parcel and protect it from development, Mountain Trails wanted to help.

"We never expected to win second place for the most unique donors on Live PC, Give PC Day," Sturgis said. "We wanted to heighten the public’s awareness that trails and open space go hand in hand and that Summit Land needs to raise some serious money in this upcoming year to keep land for our trails."

Mountain Trails Foundation donated $1,000 of its $2,500 prize to Summit Land, in hopes the community would follow suit.

Cheryl Fox, executive director of Summit Land Conservancy said the $1,000 donation means even more because it is kicking off a $25,000 dollar-for-dollar matching grant from the Bronfman family.

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"This is the final push for us to raise the rest of the money we need. Trails and open space go hand-in-hand. We support each other because people love open space, but they love to be on their open space as well," Fox said.

Sturgis added that the Live PC, Give PC effort on Nov. 11 helped the local non-profits realize that by working together, they can achieve more with less.

"There is a real need for the non-profits to help each other out and share resources when they can. Maybe one has vehicles, while the other has people, but if they work together, they can reach their means with minimal expense," he said.

With the rest of their prize money, Mountain Trails will be making sure residents have access to some of the best cross-country skiing in the area. According to Sturgis, they will be grooming additional cross-country trails this winter and doing it more often in anticipation of increased usage.

"We will be setting more track more often and are expecting to set 20 kilometers of trail every day, including the Rail Trail from White Pine to Round Valley," he said.

A cross-country trail from Park City out to Redstone will also be groomed, and Sturgis recommends residents use it to ski to dinner.

Because of the increased use of the cross-country trails in the last few years, Mountain Trails found itself at the center of a controversy over unleashed dogs. This year, Sturgis said they will be trying to educate instead of enforce. He said signs will be posted reminding residents that dogs are required by law to be on leashes in Round Valley and that residents are responsible for their dogs on the trails.

"We are trying to get people to inform animal control if a dog bites someone while out on the trails or is being out of control," he said. "I understand it is a bummer to try to identify the dog and the owner, but it will make it so the same dog isn’t out there all the time causing problems and giving the rest of the dogs a bad name."

Sturgis added that he saw a significant change last year in Round Valley and heard more complaints about skiers than dogs.

"People are really beginning to recognize their dog-responsibility, it was kind of refreshing to hear complaints against skiers instead," he said.

According to Sturgis, Mountain Trails has done its part to make Park City an "ultimate ski town" with the addition of cross-country trails in the past 10 years.

"When I first moved here, Park City really only had downhill skiing to offer. In the last few years, we have cross-country trails that are groomed, free, allow dogs, private, ski only, ungroomed, anything you could want," he said.

To make a donation to the Summit Land Conservancy to help preserve the Osguthorpe Farm in Round Valley, visit http://www.summitlandconservancy.org

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