Dogpac, a nonprofit out of central Oregon, is working to cultivate recreational spaces welcoming for both humans and their furry friends.
The organization was founded over a decade ago to promote off-leash trails for dogs. The group maintains three areas during the winter including the Wanoga Snow Play Area, Edison Butte Sno-Park and Skyliners Trail.
“We do this so a whole bunch of people can be out there to enjoy having a ski area for their family and dogs,” said Jim Baker, board member and coordinator for winter ski and snowshoe trail grooming at Wanoga.
Baker first heard about dogpac from a friend who had volunteered to groom winter trails previously. As a dog owner himself, and with more free time because of his retirement, he stepped up to join the nonprofit in 2014. He currently has a 13-year-old border collie.
The nonpofit grooms and maintains a 2-mile ski trail and a 1-mile snowshoe path at the Wanoga Snow Play Area, he said. Ski enthusiasts can trek along a “curvy double-loop” with their pets. The groomed snowshoe trail cuts along trees at about 5,300 feet of elevation, he added.
“We maintain and groom about three miles of ski trails for both classic and skate skiing, plus about a mile of snowshoe trails,” Baker said. “Bags are provided for dog waste along with trash receptacles for the waste bags.”
Baker said Wanoga Sno-Park is located approximately 6 miles east of Mount Bachelor and about 13 miles west of Bend, Ore.
According to the dogpac website, a team of around eight volunteers groom the trails each week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
One of the original founders of dogpac funded the purchase of a used Sno-Cat machine for trail grooming, he noted. Upkeep on the machine was expensive, he said, so the same founder loaned the organization money to acquire a Yamaha 300 ATV with tracks and a Yellowstone Ginzu groomer. He said the loan has since been paid off through funds received from sponsors, supporters and trailhead donations.
Maker said the Edison Sno-Park features spectacular scenery but varying snow quality because of the lower elevation. Skyliners Trail is an ungroomed area available for use by walkers, snowshoers and skiers. Dogpac also operates recreational trails during the summer.
As the group plans for the future, Baker said, there are talks of expanding the trail system to accommodate for the increase in users. The population of Bend has grown to about 100,000 people, he said. He also noted that global warming causes the snow level to rise each year.
“There’s just not enough facilities for recreational skiing with people cross-country skiing and the sledding hill right next door,” he said. “You get a lot of people and it can get chaotic.”
The nonprofit runs solely off donations from community members and fundraising, Baker said. In the last couple of weeks, he said, the group has spent $1,000 in repairs and preventive maintenance.
Those interested in supporting dogpac can direct donations to the nonprofit’s website at www.dogpac.org.