There is an old saying: "When one door closes, another opens." The Blaine County Recreation District and the city of Hailey are hoping this is the case for Nordic-skiing possibilities in the south valley.
For 10 years, Nordic skiers have enjoyed groomed trails on private land in Quigley Canyon, just east of Hailey. That is slated to come to an end this winter, as 12 kilometers of trails in the canyon will likely be declared off limits by the landowners.
Jim Keating, executive director of the Blaine County Recreation District, said this week that he has tried unsuccessfully to contact the Quigley property's main representative, developer David Hennessy, since Hennessy closed hiking and biking trails last month in Quigley Canyon that have been used for generations.
Keating said he assumes that the Nordic ski trails are going to close also, as the developer has stated at public meetings.
"He has communicated that we cannot be in Quigley for this year, so we have to do our best to maintain a solution for the community," Keating said Tuesday.
Keating said the district is making headway in a effort to open a new Nordic skiing area on the other side of town at the mouth of Croy Canyon.
"It is a puzzle right now but we are seeing how it could possibly come together," he said.
Keating said district Trails Coordinator Eric Rector has been working to identify and contact a disparate group of private landowners, city officials, School District leaders and nonprofit groups who would have to sign off on the idea before it to moves forward.
Keating said about seven kilometers of groomed trails could be developed and maintained from Lion's Park on the west side of the Big Wood River to the Croy Canyon Ranch property about 1.5 miles to the west.
"It would be a Nordic solution that is close to town. The area would not be as big as Quigley, but it has interesting terrain from a Nordic perspective," he said.
Keating said he also hopes the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation could have a base at the new Nordic area.
Hailey Mayor Fritz Haemmerle announced at a City Council meeting Monday that he hopes city leaders would soon sign a letter of support for the plan, which could include the use of Lion's Park for parking.
"This is a very promising possibility," Haemmerle said.
Lion's Park is a city park on county land, contiguous with the Draper Preserve, a public use area managed by the Wood River Land Trust.
Keating said he hopes to also get approval from the School District and a private landowner before applying for a conditional use permit with Blaine County, within the next two weeks. He said he would need to move quickly in order to get the trails system running for the upcoming ski season.
'This will take some time," he said. "Basically, we are going through the same process we went through with Quigley. I have been incredibly encouraged so far by the positive feedback and support from entities both public and private. Hopefully something can work out."
Tony Evans: firstname.lastname@example.org