Dylan Sloan, Bowdoin Orient
February 28, 2020
Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust is so excited to be working with Friends of Cross-Country Skiing (FOXCS) who are focused on improving trails and information about cross-country skiing to our community.
For years, Nordic skiing options around campus have been slim. Students looking for groomed trails could either drive half an hour to Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, where Bowdoin’s varsity team practices, or try their luck at a few groomed snowmobile trails slightly closer to campus. But, in the past few months, Friends of Cross-Country Skiing (FOXCS), a local community-based organization acting as an arm of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, has been advocating for improved recreational Nordic skiing facilities right here in town—and the group has been rapidly gaining support.
Before FOXCS, the recreational Nordic skiing community in the Brunswick-Topsham area was not formalized and was limited in its scope. Although residents have made efforts to improve local conditions, there was no formal movement to petition for more trails in town and build a sense of community amongst local skiers.
“There [were] definitely a lot of people who [had] been thinking about [forming a group] for years,” said Bowdoin Nordic skiing Head Coach Nathan Alsobrook, who has been involved with FOXCS from the beginning. “Now [that] we’re starting to talk about this and coordinate more, [we’re attracting people] who might not have known anything about this previously.”
The inspiration for FOXCS came from the confluence of a number of factors. Earlier this winter, Brunswick’s Mere Creek Golf Club, a popular spot for local skiers, decided to stop allowing use of its property for skiing. Even though there was no real formalized community of recreational skiers, the backlash to Mere Creek’s decision was strong.
“People got really upset, and they wrote to the Town Council,” said Kathy Thorson, a nurse practitioner at the Bowdoin Health Center and an executive committee member of FOXCS. “The town councillors said, ‘We have never, ever had so many people come and talk to us about any issue.’”
The energetic community action in support of cross-country skiing came at the perfect moment for Thorson, who had been thinking about how to start a more formalized skiing community in town.
“We happen to be sort of positioned perfectly to go, ‘Oh, look at all these people that are interested in cross country skiing!’ And they would all say, ‘I wrote to my town councilor, because I’m really upset.’ And then I would be able to write back and say, ‘Hi, there’s this new group!’” said Thorson.
The final phase of the group’s evolution came when it became officially affiliated with the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT), a local nonprofit, at the end of last year.
“[We] fit exactly with their mission,” said Thorson. “So they actually turned to us really early on. We went to the Land Trust and said, ‘What do you think?’ And they said, ‘Oh, you’re perfect. We’ve been wanting to do something like this for so long’ … and so we became an advisory group.”
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