Letter to the Editor
I’m opposed to the Girdwood Nordic Club’s proposed new trail development in the upper valley. I don’t think the trail, or the vision it represents, is good for Girdwood’s future.
Girdwood’s forest is a central part of its magic and requires stewardship.
The club’s last project, the Nordic Loop, was accidentally over-built, sometimes being far wider than it was supposed to be. This error negatively impacted the nearby Winner Creek Trail system, turning a good portion of it into essentially a roadside experience. It defies common sense to permit a group to start a new trail project when they haven’t fixed the problems created by the previous one.
The proposed trail would mostly cater to user groups, especially skate skiers and mountain bikers, who are already very well served by Girdwood’s existing trail system. It is a detriment to those who enjoy the area in question as it is now for its undeveloped and contiguously forested, solitude-affording, quiet qualities – qualities which would largely disappear if this project occurs.
The Club has even, strangely, claimed an aim of their proposed trail is averting future development in the affected area. Cutting down the forest to save the forest isn’t my idea of stewardship. We should also be concerned about the cumulative impacts of trails. In addition to this proposed trail, there is a strong push afoot in our community for additional mountain bike trails. Girdwood seems to be on a fast track towards a valley carved up by trails with just a thin row of trees separating them – the death of the forest by a thousand paper cuts.
The undeveloped parts of the forest – and our close proximity to them – are something special about Girdwood that it’s reasonable to expect to be part of our community’s future and legacy. I don’t think it’s a good vision for Girdwood’s future to expect it to be little more than an upper-class recreational playground geared largely towards high-adrenaline sports.This development would unfortunately move us further down that road, and push our residents’ experiences with undeveloped forest farther and farther from everyone’s front doors.