Trails club reflects on year’s activities

HANCOCK – The Orpheum Theater in Hancock was packed Saturday night with members and supporters to socialize and hear a presentation of the Copper Harbor Trails Club activities in 2013.

Before giving the presentation, Lori Hauswirth, CHTC executive director, said the club officially formed in 2008, but people have been informally working together for longer than that.

“People involved with the club have been building trails for 20 years,” she said.

Hauswirth said there are 82 paid members of the CHTC and many others who support the club in some way.

Aaron Rogers, CHTC president, said the club membership consists mostly of people who like to ride mountain bikes, but not exclusively.

“We have a lot of outdoor enthusiasts involved with our club,” he said.

The club is for people who prefer non-motorized outdoor activities, Rogers said.

Rogers said the club grooms about 10 kilometers of cross country ski trails, and maintains about 35 miles of mountain bike trails, all in the Copper Harbor area.

Before Hauswirth’s presentation, Rogers introduced CHTC board members present at the event, and he said the board became much more active after Hauswirth was hired as the executive director.

“There’s a lot going on for a little club,” he said.

During her presentation, Hauswirth listed the grants the club received in 2013. They included: $30,000 from Bell Helmets to build an overflow trail; $25,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development for an excavator; $1,000 from Plum Creek; $10,000 from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources; and $1,500 from the Keweenaw Community Foundation Youth Advisory Council.

Hauswirth explained the various income sources the club has, including fundraising events, merchandise sales, raffles, contract jobs and grants. Membership income wasn’t listed.

“It’s such a small part of what we do,” she said.

Hauswirth said expenses included wages, tools and equipment, fundraising events and raffles, among others.

Demographics of the club include a median age of 35, 71 percent college educated, and a median income of $62,000.

The club membership is mostly male, Hauswirth said.

“Which we’re trying to change,” she said.

Hauswirth said the fact so many people come to to use the trails is benefitting the Copper Harbor community.

“We’re bringing good money into the Harbor,” she said.

Visits to the CHTC website increased by 4,000 in 2013, Hauswirth said. Facebook contacts have also increased.

The CHTC is getting recognition in some outdoor and mountain biking magazines, Hauswirth said.

“We have a lot of coverage from national magazines,” she said.

A strategic plan for the club has been written, Hauswirth said, and a mission statement has been drafted.

“It really focused on Copper Harbor,” she said.

Attending the event was Chris Schmidt, who said he wasn’t a member of CHTC, but he is an organizer of the Keweenaw Cup cyclocross event in Copper Harbor. Although he isn’t a member, he said he appreciates what the club does.

“It’s great to have an organization dedicated to mountain bike riding and trail use,” he said.

Christina Smigowski, who is CHTC treasurer, said she’s been a member of the club for about a year and a half.

“I’m passionate about mountain biking,” she said.

Although she doesn’t ride in winter, Smigowski said she rides three to five days a week in warm weather, including the Copper Harbor, Michigan Technological University and Swedetown trails.

“Every trail system there is around here, I’m on it,” she said.