Snowmobiler trailblazer earns statewide honor
Charlie Cox, a Carbondale snowmobiler and president of the Mt. Sopris Recreational Riders, was recently named the Colorado Snowmobile Association’s Snowmobiler of the Year.
Cox was nominated for the state award by the Mt. Sopris Recreational Riders, who also named him their snowmobiler of the year.
Besides putting in many hours of volunteer work, Cox has been active in the political issues surrounding snowmobile use on federal lands.
The presentation took place in South Fork at the CSA convention two weeks ago.
Cox is also vice president of the Colorado Snowmobile Association.
He was selected for his communication skills and commitment through volunteerism, said Cathy Gotfredson, a member of the club.
“Charlie spends hours on the phone communicating with local club members, state members, Forest Service officials, and writing articles for CSA’s SNOW SCOOP and the local club’s newsletter,” she said.
He’s also written grants funding a new groomer that is used on the Sunlight to Powderhorn Trail, a 120-mile winter trail system that runs from Sunlight ski area to near the Powderhorn ski area.
The grant also paid for a metal garage for the groomer and other equipment.
“Charlie also spends many hours clearing trails, running the groomer, setting trail poles, building bridges, repairing equipment,” Gotfredson said.
Cox, who works at Glenwood Custom Carpet, has lived in Carbondale since 1976 and took up snowmobiling about 10 years ago.
“What’s happened over the years, instead of going out to ride, I joined the local club,” Cox said, and became active in promoting the sport.
He also is a founding member of the White River Forest Alliance, which has lobbied state and federal legislators to keep the national forest open to motorized use.
“It started out with six people from the club,” Cox said. “We needed to represent motorized access to the high country.”
The group formed to ensure the White River National Forest did not prohibit or overly limit motorized use in its revised forest plan.
“Charlie understands the political significance the White River National Forest has to our area and the nation. He knows that the final Forest Plan and then the Travel Management Plan will set significant standards for national forests throughout the nation,” said White River Forest Alliance president Randy Parsons in a letter nominating Cox for the award. “He wants responsible ridership without undue and unnecessary restrictions being imposed on the sport of snowmobiling.”
The concept of having concentrated areas of multiple use, such as at Vail Pass where snowmobiles and cross country skiers and snowshoers use the same trails, has worked well around the state, Cox said.
“The big thing is getting the Forest Service to cooperate. On the White River, they have.”
But because the Forest Service does not have enough money to support specific uses such as snowmobiling, local clubs have volunteered to maintain trails.
The Mt. Sopris Recreational Riders literally blazed the almost 100-mile trail from Sunlight ski area to Electric Mountain Lodge near Powderhorn ski area on the Grand Mesa.
The club continues to maintain and mark that trail for public use.
Cox estimated he and other club volunteers groom about 150 miles of trail three to four times a week with a snowcat.
“We spend about $30,000 a season to keep the trails open,” Cox said.
Cox is modest about the award.
“When you love the sport and you’re so active, you don’t stop to think about it. It just comes naturally,” he said.
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