Spokane North Notes
A weekly bulletin of the Spokane-North Rotary Club
April 4, 2016
Editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink
Photo: Jim Minkler
Program Coordinator: Brad Stark
          Raking it in: Club volunteers will meet Saturday (April 9) at 10 a.m. at Melody Farance’s house in North Spokane to rake leaves and pine needles.  Melody is on a medical leave of absence from the club.  President Lenore Romney will e-mail the specific address.
          Going “social:” Fund-raising coordinator Jodi Harland said she has posted the June 2 annual fund-drive dinner on Facebook.  She encourages members to spread the “likes” as the club tries to raise a record $25,000 for projects for needy kids in West Central Spokane.
‘Happy trails’ for Nordic skiers this year
            For the first paid staff member of the Spokane Nordic Ski Association things have been schussing along at a great pace.
            The snowpack has been great, the wind-storm damage cleaned up quickly and expansion plans for the Mount Spokane Nordic area are moving forward, Todd Dunfield, the association’s executive director, told the club April 4.  His new position follows 12 years as director of GU’s Center for Community Action and Service Learning.
            The southeast quadrant of Mount Spokane Park and neighboring Inland Empire Paper Co. forest properties offer 60 kilometers of trails, ranging from gentle slopes to steep routes, Dunfield said.  Nordic skiers no longer have to share the trails with snowmobilers, he adds.
            In peak season, the Nordic area draws 3,300 to 3,800 skiers a week, he said.  Trail users leave from Selkirk Lodge and have warming huts for breaks.  After a year of little snow, some Mount Spokane areas still have up to eight feet of snow, he said.
            The state, which manages the park, has provided a $350,000 trail groomer and $182,000 for expansion planning.  Dunfield said concepts include a “stadium” area for race starts and finishes, a new lodge with food and beverage service, 200 more parking spaces, and possibly even a biathalon competition area.
            Thus far, he said, there has been no opposition to expansion plans from tribal interests or others who have challenged additional Alpine ski expansion plans at Mount Spokane.
            Tailoring his presentation to the business crowd, Dunfield, a 2011 Leadership Spokane grad, said the Nordic activities are a growing piece of the huge recreational business pie.  The association sponsors and partners include fitness and health care providers as well as those selling skiing gear.
            Asking for a show of hands response, about half the club said they ski.
            Dunfield listed the advantages of Nordic over Alpine skiing, including the fitness component,  “no lift lines, and no snow boarders to dodge,” not to mention the cost savings of cheaper equipment, $5 lessons for kids and an $84 pass for the whole season.
            The non-profit association, he said, has 250 members and a mailing list of 750, he said.  Volunteers are a key, Dunfield said, marveling at how quickly 500 wind-blown downed trees were removed from trails after the huge storm on Nov. 17.
            The Nordic Association, he said, is separate from the annual Langlauf (German for “through the trees) cross-country race, which has been staged for 36 years.
            Dunfield said special efforts are made to introduce kids to cross-country skiing.  His group works with the West Central Community Center Outdoors Club and the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department, which transports skiers from North Spokane to the mountain.  Accommodations include disabled and disadvantaged youth, he adds.  The youth participation motto is “no child left inside.”
            Dunfield, an Eagle Scout, said one of his mentors was the late Don Spencer, a longtime member and past president of Spokane-North Rotary.