Mammoth Nordic bows out

Mammoth Nordic, which since 2002 has groomed its way into the winter experience here, has now announced it is grooming its way back out.

Its leader, Brian Knox, released the news last Friday, writing in an e-mail,

“Regrettably, our club’s passion, funding, equipment and manpower over the last three years has not created a compelling enough case for community Nordic recreation in the eyes of town government.”

Knox’s announcement immediately sent the town’s recreation department into a scramble.

Recreation Department director Stuart Brown said representatives from his own department, the tourism bureau (Visit Mammoth) and the forest service are trying to figure out a way to keep the trails system going.

The non-profit foundation was viewed as very much a loser when the Town Council approved its Measure R funding distribution. It had been working with the forest service and volunteers in grooming about nine miles of cross-country ski trails for the public.

“It just became apparent to me,” Knox said in an interview on Monday, “that the quality of the program we’re interested in running, which was the quality of program that we offered last year, takes a significant investment of time and money.

“Until we get to the point we feel like the town is genuinely interested in getting a serious partner in that, it’s something that, I, unfortunately and with great reluctance, regrettably determined it was something we couldn’t sustain.”

Recreation Commission chairman Bill Sauser disagrees with Knox’s assertion that the town isn’t interested in the program.

“I really want that program,” Sauser said, “but we need to scale it and work together, not just hand it over to one individual to cover the costs of an organization.

“Also, I question the timing (in the middle of winter).”

One famously active Nordic athlete, Phyllis Benham, is disappointed.

“I want a resolution of this thing,” she said. “I want people to cooperate so that there will be a Mammoth Nordic program for the rest of the season.”

In its slapdown of Mammoth Nordic’s enormous $355,444 Measure R application request, commissioners whittled it down to $5,440.

The Recreation Commission urged Mammoth Nordic to form a committee to see if Knox’s Nordic crew can integrate with John Wentworth’s Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access Foundation (MLTPA), which received $200,520 in Measure R funds.