Spa State Park restricts cross-country skiers around fairways
Story Discussion By DREW KERR email@example.com | Posted: Friday, December 18, 2009 4:40 pm | (0) Comments
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Drew Kerr DREW KERR - DKERR@POSTSTAR.COM Cross-country skiers assemble near the entrance to a new 3.7-mile winter trail system at the Saratoga Spa State Park on Wednesday. Officials at the park put up fences and re-routed parts of the trail in an effort to keep skiers off of the fairways at the Spa Golf Course. Heavy ski traffic compacted the snow and killed the grass underneath, they said. Skiing and snowshoeing in the rest of the park, where there are a total of 12 miles of trails, remains largely open.
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Cross-county skiers at the Saratoga Spa State Park will have a little less room to roam this winter.
Parks officials said this week that cross-country skiing trails that traditionally ran over the Spa Golf Course were fenced in and re-routed around fairways so that the fragile turf underneath would no longer be damaged by snow compacted by heavy ski traffic.
Skiers and snowshoers have had relative freedom on the golf course in previous seasons, but officials said repairing the damage had become a perennial problem they now want to avoid.
"It kills the grass, just kills it, and there's no way to get it back," said Alane Ball Chinian, a regional director for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation who works out of Saratoga Springs.
Signs detailing a new 3.7-mile winter trail route and showing pictures of damage done to the turf in past winters have been installed to announce the rules change to park patrons.
The decision to keep some parts of the state park off limits comes as officials continue to invest in upgrades at the 9- and 18-hole golf courses within the park.
Bill Richardson, the course's director, said staff are two years into a nearly $2 million overhaul designed specifically to improve turf conditions at the course.
Several trees on the course were cut down this summer and a new irrigation system is also being installed to improve the grass.
"This change goes hand-in-hand with the investment we're making," Richardson said. "The fairways have never been as strong or as healthy as they should be, and that leaves a negative impression on our customers."
Richardson said he hoped skiers who have flocked to the park over the years will understand why the decision was made and be cooperative.
"Change is hard, but we're hoping people will get used to it," he said. "We still think there's plenty of room for the winter activities."
Skiing and snowshoeing still remains largely open in other areas of the park, where there are a total of around 12 miles of trails.
The situation at the state park is unique because it is one of the few locations in the area where skiing occurs in a golf course setting.
Josh Milton, the director of recreation for Glens Falls, said cross-country trails that run through Cole's Woods at Crandall Park don't leave any trace after the snow melts and the ground thaws.
"We don't have any problems at all because all of our trails are in the woods where it's nothing but dirt anyway," he said.
Posted in Local on Friday, December 18, 2009 4:40 pm Updated: 5:11 pm. | Tags: