Philanthropists to the rescue – Local couple saves Durango Nordic Center

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Carter Reiter, Reporter

Last fall, the Durango Nordic Center, an area of land across from Purgatory Ski Resort, used primarily for Nordic skiing, snow biking, and snowshoeing, was threatened by a massive RV Park development. The development would have compromised approximately 160 acres of the trails and land that make up the recreational area. Many efforts were made by the Durango Nordic Ski Club (DNSC) to save the land, but to no avail. Then, on August 2, 2017, Jane and Marc Katz announced that they had purchased 190 acres in the Boyce Lake and Tacoma Village area, across from Purgatory, thus rescuing the Durango Nordic Center land that had been threatened by the development.

“While we certainly weren’t excited about the motor coach development, I think it’s important to note that DNSC wasn’t actively working to prevent the development from happening, but rather trying to work with the developer to maintain trails in that area and show him how they could actually be an amenity for the development. The developer was not very keen to keep the trails so obviously having the Katz’s purchase the land is pretty much the happiest ending we could have asked for!” said Paige Elliott, the former Head Coach of the DNSC.

In an open letter to the San Juan County, The President of the DNSC Board, Tom Holcomb, outlined the desires of the Nordic Center and the DNSC program.

“DNSC wants to partner with San Juan County and the Motorcoach development to conceive a plan that benefits all stakeholders today and into the future. As stated, our request involves securing the ability to maintain in perpetuity the essential function of our current North Loop which critically extends and connects the trail network that straddles San Juan and La Plata

Counties. DNSC requests this Commission and the Board to consider measures and limitations

that would preserve the current North Loop trail network. Preserving this trail benefits San Juan

County, the Motorcoach development, local residents, visitors and DNSC,” stated Holcomb.

 

According to Elliott, the developer was not enthusiastic about maintaining the trails and made no moves to work with DNSC. DNSC attended public meetings with the San Juan County Planning Commision to provide input on why the affected trails were essential to the Nordic Center.

Prior to the purchase of the land, the land was not public land and was privately owned by Purgatory Resort.

To the Nordic Community, the announcement of the land being bought in early August, was like first snow that came early. Approximately one third of the nordic trails at the nordic center would have been compromised that have been rescued by this benevolent act.

“Overall, the reason the land was purchased was to preserve the community nordic trails and the landscape. Sometimes, it’s hard, globally, to feel like you have an impact, but by acting locally you make little steps. The biggest summary is that living in this community, so many people help and contribute in so many ways, either by volunteering or coaching or being politically active, and the was [the Katz’s] way of giving back to the community. The land was purchased in the spirit and love of the unique nordic community,” said Moira Montrose, the Katz’s assistant.

The Nordic Center will continue to run and operate the way that is has historically been run. As of September 30, 2017, there will be no changes to the trails inside of the purchased land.