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GMNC Board meeting via Zoom, February 10, 6:00-8:25PM

2/10/21 GMNC minutes:

The Zoom meeting, Joe Ramey, President and host, commenced at 6 p.m.

Present:  Joe Ramey, Tom Ela, Winslow Robertson, Lynea Schultz-Ela, Larry Gruel, Caryl Brown, Colleen McAllister, Dan Tille, Cameron Tyler, Winslow Robertson.  No guests requested to attend this meeting (checked website and Mailchimp).

Mission Statement reviewed and discussed our emphasis on people of all ages having fun nordic skiing.

Topics of discussion or action in order presented:

Reviewed minutes from last meeting.  Delta County – $5,000 correct amount.  Other minor corrections noted.  Corrected minutes approved unanimously.

Mission statement: NP, love skiing – no snowshoeing hiking.  Dedicated to promoting fun X-country all skiers all ages.

Larry and Lynea reviewed the new GMNC finances reporting, which Larry has substantially re-categorized at this point.

Income/expense news is positive.  Income up over prior years substantially.  Individual donors way up.  Grooming costs substantially below prior years.  Discussion of security around collecting from the lockboxes.  Try to do at random times; with another person present.  Kris Stahle joins the meeting.  Collections at trail boxes more than double last year.

Joe asks how we determine how many members we have.  Dan reported on website day-use button being implemented.  Has brought in $110 in donations.  Martin W. did this work for free.  Colleen is going to determine membership numbers.  Assume it’s up due to $16,000 more for individual contributions.

These financials do not reflect the $20,000 Mesa grant.  Since we are cash basis, they do not go until February.  Next month will be clearer picture.  Tracking down Delta $5,000 grant – has it been sent.  Waiting to get Paypal information – Martin has sent on. $3,800 is total revenue from lessons. $2,850 out 2.5% processing for payroll, $850 net to GMNC. Total number of lessons taught – Dan says 75 different participants – 5 pending lessons.  Prior year had 51 total lessons (although LGL wasn’t fully reporting prior year and maybe didn’t include clinics per Joe).  Rough numbers.   Dan is going to compare further with website download.

Expense narrative – expenses up $34,000.  Website, maintenance and bookkeeper are $27,000 of this.  Snowcat (fuel and wages) are pretty much as budgeted – $436 under budget.

Balance sheet – $374,447. $59,000 is restricted funds.  Joe question $250,000-$300,000 for CAT equipment.  Depreciated the entire value of the CAT.  Lynea says op reserve should be 1-year – this year get up to $80,000 so have full operating reserve budget.  Discussion of restricted funds versus unrestricted.  $239,665 is “restricted” by the board for certain purposes.  Board will further discuss financial situation in terms of mission and impact on donations.

Lynea discussed the 3-day seminar put on by National Forest Service.  Some things learned.  This is volunteer-driven organization, based not on fees but donations.  So, should have full budget in reserve.  Major equipment expenditures every year and need to build up CAT fund.  Infrastructure improvements – shed, warming for equipment.  The only real discretionary money in her opinion.  Should it be invested, yes.  Husband on water board and they have to have major financial background money for infrastructure issues that may come up.  Have to have a plan for it and invest it wisely so grows in safe manner for the organization.  Can we invest in account where it makes interest?  Still liquid?  If emergency came up.  It is in money-management and treasury direct account.  Larry says do MM or rolling over 90 day CDs.  Some options where could earn more.  Larry says we need to draft an investment policy, a board resolution.  Larry would use investment plan from another non-profit.  He will look for a better account for better return for GMNC.  Tom Ela says we’ve had CDs in the past.  NO more exotic investments he can recall.  GMNC has not had this kind of money in the past.  Have had a “fair bit” at times.

Dave Smith (driver) and CAT discussion.  Why don’t we lease a CAT?  Lambert Foundation has gone as far as it is going to go.  Instead of storing and maintaining, consider leasing option?  Aspen stopped buying snow cats – they lease.  Powderhorn does too.  Every year refresh their fleet with 3 new cats.  Simplicity and not risking need to buy is better.  Year 5 CATs start having big issues with need to rehab.  2 years from now.  Tom says we are low hours and relatively light use, so 350 hours versus 1,000/year at ski area.  Tom would be supportive of looking into leasing.  We planned on a 20-year life cycle for the CAT.  6,000 hour range, looking at turning over.  Lambert okay either way.  5,000 hours is when start getting expensive issues.  Traded in the old piston bully and it had 3,500 hours and only got $6,000 on the trade-in.  Lambert wanted it done that day – could have gotten $100,000.  Should talk with Lambert about this.  Go to dealers and see what we can get.  Should have leasing companies they work with.  Concern is spending more money for a lease.

FS meeting issues continued.  Felt FS listening at times and not at others.  Bill willing to review dog issue was a good thing.  Lynea concerned that not allowing hikers is unenforceable and requires forest closure and dog rule does too – had not heard before.  Want to check that out.  Dan asks if people can ask other areas how they get no dogs and no hiking on trails rules.  Not apples to apples.   Sometimes FS and private land combined.  Depends on the permit; possessory interest gives more control.  Was outfitter permit that we had.  Talked about dogs on Skyway and hikers on all trails.  Dan looked at operating plan – didn’t look at maps that were approved.  Have a sign that says “skis or snowshoes only, no hikers thank you” was approved but that sign is not up.  Bill says unapproved it per Dan.  Need sign off on it.  Sign about “consensus” changed.  Could put two signs up – “skier community – skies and snowshoes no hikers” with FS logo at the trailhead as soon as the sign is made.  Based on what Bill said, concerning and he would remove.  Doesn’t mean it would stay up.  Need to show approved and let him know going to print and put up.  Joe will talk with Ryan about that sign and get yes or no.  We can take “no dog” signs and put at snowmobile crossings where CL turns to Skyway.  In the past, they took those down.  Need to order some signs.  FS did not take down “by consensus no dogs”.  Bill asking about it, so someone took it down.  That one is OK.   Can put at trailhead and snowmobile corridors.  That sign had a piece of duct-tape over GMNC – pencil in skiers.  “Dog free by consensus of the skier community.”

Winslow says we have a ski trail permit and whether fee or donation we can do this.  Talked to friend at Rio Grande – can control it through rules of use, but it’s on us – makes us the policemen.  That’s the way it is now.  Based on what Bill said, “it’s a slippery slope”.  Ban dogs, what ban next.  Winslow says it has to be approved through operating plan.  Bill hesitant – GMNC been asking for 10 years.  Financial/liability issue – need to address it.  He will consider it this summer.  Winslow says it’s no big deal doesn’t have to go through NEPA.  “Rules of use” Bill didn’t know what it means.  Lynea – couple things need to happen – no hiker sign and getting signs printed people on the board last year knew how to do it – need to figure it out.  Re: June meeting to change operating plan, have to be lawyers and have to talk with places that are doing this to see what they are doing on FS land.  Have to do that investigation.  Going to have to push hard or go to Bill’s supervisor and ask for clarification.  Give Bill chance to approve in June.  If doesn’t need to push to get it in operating plan for October.  Joe is going to look into this.  Lynea get with Callie or go to company with our design and order.  Dan has email listing that company name.  Chris has it cause paid them.  Joe call Ryan and see that indeed we can install the signs.  We want 4 in case one gets stolen?

Master Development plan – re: warming hut.  John L. Just handed $50,000.
Bill not looked at this.  Joe attached a file to see trail signs.  Has plan we submitted to FS re warming hut.  Frontier Buildings out of Montrose – visitor center at GM bathroom is the building we would buy.  John Lorenson would like us to buy that.  Asking about the MDP to progress on topic of a warming hut at Skyway.  Bill said understaffed, haven’t read, not really in right format, will start in April (which means August).  Need to start in April because he is going to hire someone.  Not look like our MDP is going to get addressed.  Joe needs to go to John and tell him what’s happening – probably not this summer.  Board needs to decide where we are with regard to permanent warming hut.  Many people say don’t build 20 x 30 that John wants with wood-burning stove and no shelter for equipment or events in future.  No disco ball.  Dan T wants water and toilets.  Range of ideas for this, Lynea said do we even want to do.  Dan T – what covered with Bill about this is that there is a process that needs to be gone through before planning it out.  MDP accepted, environmental analysis we pay for, Bill then approves results, send designs in, approved by FS engineering and Mesa County building requirements.  Then, can break ground.  No way can move forward just based on environmental analysis.

Lynea and Dan held Bill’s feet to the fire, especially about signs.  Made it a fruitful meeting.  Smoke and mirrors – nothing about them that is straightforward – here’s the wall.  Broad concept but no ladder to get over the wall.

Larry’s friend who runs Tennessee Pass.  Rules change with every district ranger that shows up.  Dan getting that too.  Employee in Delta office says the same thing.  GMNC is positive influence.

Timber sale issue – 3rd topic.  Bill says no change.  Bid not put out.  That will happen this summer.  Will know by July what company will be doing.  Will happen over next 5 years – as early as next season.  Will happen in late summer and into the fall.  No work beyond 12/23 in year doing sale.  Scales Lake Road will be churned up with only 4″ to protect road.  Will be taking big trucks in and taking out up to that date.  Dan found when this was published and comments could have been made.  1 year ago was when came out and published (overrides our permit).  Bill says written specifically based on information that busiest season in January – we would not have given them that.   5-6 weeks no Scales Lake Road/Tower.  Lynea asked why doing – accessed in winter off ski trail?  Basic forest management.  Every 20 to 30 years have to go into specific areas to manage the trees.  Can’t do later in the winter – too soft with thaw.  March too much snow.  Bill hoping the majority done in the fall.  Parking lot expansion at Skyway intended to accommodate trucks.  Dan says no options; no telling no.  Joe says in our lottery our ski pod should be notified.  Companies wanting winter option is what impacted.  Logging company required to plow crossings so CAT can get from one side to the other.  5 years from now a contract awarded to company for Jumbo Lake – could happen 4 to 5 seasons from now.  Timber prices determine this.  Need to wait for snow to groom at Scales.  Half access to Skyway parking.  Open to using new logging road (4.5 miles) as ski trail. What have to do NEPA to accomplish.  NOTE – why need nepa review if snow only trail?

Bill acting like his hands were tied, because area has to be logged.  No way to know.  Could be extra 7 kilometers trail.  We would have to do whatever to be able to groom it. Can’t add any trails unless we give something up.  Wildlife biologists have to get involved.  Backcountry trails are listed as GMNC trails.  Could trade out that classification to get new trails.  Dan researched and systematically moving through entire Grand Mesa since 2017.  Beetle-kill mitigation. We don’t have beetle-kill because of their work per Bill.  Lynea – as a board, when and how are we going to talk to community about this.  Joe suggests discuss later in the year – April.  Put energy into presenting to membership then.  Will require some energy.  How about waiting until permit is sold. Is money that comes back from the permit (not available to GMNC) – new trail is outside our current pod- would have to be reviewed.  Bill would be open to expanding our pod.  Not a big deal he seemed to say.  Not want us to go to public?  Our District Ranger doesn’t seem keyed in but overall good meeting.  NOTE: See what it costs for the permit?  Get the logs for the warming hut?  Bill looking at changing Ward Trailhead and expanding parking lot.  Said could move, make bigger, but have ideas to them by summer 2022.  If want to redesign and get 100 car parking lot – ask – once in 50 years due to GAO Act.  Could put off the highway back behind the visitor center, etcetera.  Going to be putting tons of money into the campground.  Tom points out lots of terrain problems with where that center could go.  Need to involve Tom and Joyce and get involved in that process.

Joe says good we have meeting, makes us a squeaky wheel and come up on their radar.

Snow ranger – Bill wanted feedback on job Shane is doing.  Funded position with COVID money.  If want Shane back, need to provide feedback and different things that Shane could be doing for us.  Need comments on that.  Will communicate to Shane recommend that people with dogs/hikers go away from Skyway.

Concept of Executive Director.

Joe – taxing to be president.  Recently retired and has a lot of free time to do this.  Last season through summer put a lot of energy in it.  Backing off on number of hours – 15 a week to 20 now instead of 30 to 35 last year.  Unsustainable for him or anyone else.  What organization sustainable doing that for volunteers.  We have grown beyond this.  Back in 2005 or so, talk about this.  Christine when took over 2010 as pres tried to start a process to get an executive director.  Back burnered because we know what we’re doing, and just need people to do it.  This org lucky to have us – comments on list that people like us putting in time to do this.  Joe grooming Lynea to be president.  Not sure she wants to.   Joe thinks foolish.  Need to explore this.  Next summer consider executive director.  Talked with Dan – thinks Dan would be good for that.  He would not be handed.  Advertise and look at everybody.  Dan in just a year has gotten involved in about every aspect.  Joe has asked Dan to consider.  Want to form a committee looking at that business model.

Dan – I’ve talked with every board member.  Committee of 5 – 3 from board; 2 from community.  Job requirement what doing.  Get Board approval/tweak it.  Go do it; committee has to advertise and find candidates and do preliminary interviews.  Idea to have person in place by late summer.  Has talked with Steve Bennett and Christia Aschwandan would be part of.  Steve says he would be on it and do work necessary.  Not necessarily lead it.  Steve wants Board to do it and lead it.  Dan is interested in it and not want to be involved in it and apply. Lynea has done some footwork on this.  She asked for a list of responsibilities for each board member.  She put that list together. What the board accomplishes generally.  What do we want to pay an executive director to do?  What do we want accomplished?  Separate out those duties.

Lynea – MDP has a 10 year plan with 5 year re-up.  Attached to this meeting and can download it.  Goals from this combined – No concerns restructuring organization.  Fundraisng and needs to be mechanically inclined, what’s involved in setting trails, FS issues – variety of issues.  Grant writing or fundraising the goal.  Lynea interested in being ED? No.  But interested in President post.  Dan talked with ED of CB nordic – CB and GMNC started about the same time.  They have ED paid staff – in town and high-level donors they have is really high.  Not a comparison.  Switched to NP board with PT ED, fundamental change to their organization.  Switched to FT ED around 10 years ago.  She has been in that position 4th season as FT ED.  She said way looks now – Board, pinch point, then full staff.  We don’t have money to do that.  They have a seven-figure budget.  K club – donors that give $1,000 or more – six figures.  Big events, etcetera bring in $20,000 to $30,000 – big generator.  Talked about a ton of different stuff.  Thinks it would be smart move given scope of what going on, but also has to be board is still working.  ED handling big picture items getting support from the board – because no paid staff.  Joe didn’t mention that way board works from volunteer and burn out after one year and leave, over and over.

Tom and Winslow – change in structure.  Winslow would support it – concerned about how pay for it.  Concern it would siphon off operations.  Main concern.  Not want to see it lose any money.  Tom – same, not want it to take money from operations.  Bottom-line.  Do we have the money available to attract anyone.

Joe bantered $50,000/year.  Not think anyone would do for less than that.  Christy at CB nordic – $50,000 with 20% bonus.  She’s at $70,000 with 20% bonus.  Marketing, events, lot of summertime is politics.  A lot is on private land.  Visiting with homeowners and making sure permits in place.  Trying to expand warming shed for cats and increase size of their rental center.

This committee – clear job definition, how paid for.  In terms of budget, don’t have $50,000.  Lynea – employee of this caliber.  How raise – can try to get grant (GoCO for example).  This is a big deal to get a grant like that.  What are we gonna do – races, ski school, revenue generation?  Martin got a taste of what it takes.  NOTE: CMU department/person take this role on?

Dave Knudsen would help us with this.  Looking for 2 GMNC members said they would do.  None said they would take the lead on it.  Joe on it.  No way going to be president next year.  Can crumble and fall but won’t be president.

Tom – another task for this committee.   If an ED is not feasible, what can we do to keep sustainable?  How adjust the president position.  Maybe have an assistant to the president instead of the President job.  Could work more together on things.

Lynea offered Larry.  New people with new ideas.  Big thinking things.  Steve and Christy.  Cam agreed to participate and Joe.  Lynea says Dave Knudsen very busy, city manager Paonia.  He and Callie now involved in creating ski org in Paonia.  Lynea got on list and offered to help Stevens Gulch FS land.  They need to work with GMNC to get a pod of FS land – easier than setting up different organization.  Dave’s got a conflict and too busy.  Likes Dave a lot.

Joe not involved in hiring process like this.  Not want to lead.  Winslow – two different jobs, trying to have board member and operations.  Not gonna find that skill set.

Joe says – How about we ask the membership?   Too broad and not at the point, and some members that not want to interact with.  Tom says – Doug and Laura Johnston, Marilyn Casson, and others.

Dan – not need to lead it.  Just need to direct everybody.  Steve – someone to lead it and head it up from the Board.  If the Board’s going to drive the committee.  Joe will lead it.  Just provide the agenda.  Not need to do the work behind it.  Christy, Steve – Kim served on the board.  Laura did volunteer work, Doug worked on trails.  Marilyn would like to give and even-keeled and Lynea talked her out of being treasurer.  Larry is out.

Dan – Martin wants to do PSIA instruction clinic.  Someone else 3/21 through 3/23 – 6 students with instructors.  GMAC only has to groom.  Emily running and Martin her assistant.  Check on Martin being able to do these himself.  Doesn’t conflict with anything else.  Falls under our permit.  PSIA rendevous will happen.  Martin asking donations – not paid.  Some of the people are members – already.  Our instructors will attend for free.

Website update is done.  Going through training with Martin – drastically easier to look at information on website.  Can search for names, etcetera.  Going through training.  Finished couple of weeks ago.  Almost 100% done.  Larry is going to pay remaining balance.

Committee form about the building?  No go ahead with FS.  John L and Joe are the building committee.   Will get with John about what FS said and we’ve talked about.  When talk with him, where is the $$$?  How much – $150,000?  Here’s $50,000 of it.  Third question – OK as seed money to build bigger building?  Spectrum of views – Dan wants a disco ball with a urinal.  Coffee shop?  Caryl would love to be involved in the building piece.

GJ Rotary Club would like a 15 minute presentation virtual or person.  Lynea already suggested Tom.  Going over our MDA would be good – can pull a presentation out of that.  Could lead to grant or donation.  Tom can do.  Caryl will potentially go.  Add a video would be good of kids talking about it.  Has photos from day went.

Tom will do mailchimp.  Joe going to volunteer, Larry, Dan – 2/20.  Any mailchimp ideas send to Tom.

Joe – this weekend.  This weekend meet and greet at CL on Saturday.  Looked like break in weather.  Sat will be snowy – want to do or see about changing?

Ward on Sunday – Valentines Day.  Lynea planning a ski – let people know?

Meeting adjourned.