The proposed trails were designed by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA). However, the trails will be available for hiking and horseback riding, as well.
“This is the first benchmark in realizing my dream for this community,” said Cody Thurston, owner of White Mountain Outdoor Sports and a founding member of the Ruidoso Trails Coalition. “I grew up in the horse racing business eventually bringing me to Ruidoso. Shoeing horses at the racetrack brought me to Ruidoso full-time. As a youngster though, I spent summers in Ruidoso, where I developed a passion for the outdoors,” Thurston said.
The trails master plan, construction and promotion is aimed at bringing mountain bikers and other outdoor enthusiasts to Ruidoso. “Mountain biking alone brings $3 billion per year to New Mexico and Ruidoso has not tapped that market at all. Mountain Bike enthusiasts will drive between 250 and 400 miles to ride a particular trail system and stay an average of four to five days,” Thurston said.
The grant bears fruit from the dedicated partnerships of several entities. “The success in achieving the grant award required over two years of working partnerships between the Smokey Bear Ranger District, IMBA, the Village of Ruidoso, the individuals involved in the Ruidoso Trails Coalition and support from the Ruidoso Valley Economic Development Corporation. “Individuals such as Bert Brunell and Jurado Garcia got the ball rolling by obtaining a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the USDA, Lincoln National Forest and Smokey Bear Ranger District, which is very difficult to obtain, particularly when a majority of the trails will be on national forest land,” Thurston said. The Grindstone area has been a focus point of the village parks and recreation department for convenient, diverse, long term recreation uses. Grindstone Reservoir has fishing and the park below offers Frisbee golf and horseback rides through Grindstone stables.
Debbie Jo Almanger, Village of Ruidoso parks and recreation director said, “The Grindstone area is ideal for the first phase of the IMBA master plan due to existing resources such as parking, the lake, the proximity to the Village and a primitive trail system that will be improved upon in addition to new trail construction with this grant money.”
Thurston said the Village of Ruidoso, IMBA and coalition efforts were key resources in receiving the grant. “The efforts to get a trail system moving forward after the initial memorandum of understanding proved difficult because there was no authority to guide the coalition. “
“IMBA is world renowned for eco-friendly, effective, and sustainable mountain biking trail design, we recognized this and brought their credibility to the table as the authority combining the feasibility of the trail system while meeting USDA Forest Service requirements,” Thurston said.
A portion of phase one of the trail systems is on village property. “The village and the Parks and Recreation department recognized the long term economic development impacts of the trail system at Grindstone so Debi Lee and Debbie Jo Almanger guided the coalition by writing the grant and having the village as the recipient. These partnerships were instrumental in raising the credibility of the project and thus the award of the grant.
Village manager Debi Lee said, “This project will be a catalyst for more great things to come. I appreciate the leveraged resources in Ruidoso to make this project happen.” The grant award still needs to be officially received by the Village of Ruidoso and that will occur through at the village council’s next regular meeting.
Thurston said, “The next step is to get the entire community involved with the trail layout, construction and finally, the unbridled promotion of the trail system to mountain bikers and other outdoor enthusiasts. The cost to outright contract out the trail construction amounts to $5 per linear foot or $26,400 per mile. That cost would add up to $158,600 to complete the first 6 miles of the approximate 16 miles in phase one. The Ruidoso Conceptual Trail Plan completed by IMBA consists of three phases for a total of approximately 90 miles surrounding Ruidoso.” Volunteerism using donated physical labor and equipment will be called upon. “Other mountain biking communities such as Durango, Colo. maximize opportunities similar to the adopt a highway program to assist construct trail systems. The local Ecoservants have committed to volunteering in 2011 and we will be asking other entities to lend a hand,” Thurston said.
In April 2010, the Village of Ruidoso commissioned the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) to provide a conceptual plan for the Ruidoso (Lincoln County) area at a cost of $29,000 from Lodger’s Tax Funds. The White Mountain Outdoor Club organized fund raisers that paid $4,000 of the plan.