Volunteers groom Hixon, clear trails for winter - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Volunteers groom Hixon, clear trails for winter

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - In Hixon Forest, the man you say, "hello" to on the trails may also be the man who grooms them.

"The way that we clear out the trail: Cut these chunks off and then put them back in the forest and we only cut out enough to open up the trail," said George Arimond, with a saw in hand. Arimond is a retired professor emeritus from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.

Thousands take to the trails at Hixon Forest, but whether it's for cross country skiing, or just walking, those trails need to be prepared.

Arimond and his friend, Fred Skemp, are members of the Outdoor Recreation Alliance.

The two men team up with some other volunteers and the La Crosse Parks and Recreation Department to groom Hixon.

Arimond and Skemp have been doing this for decades.

"Our work really depends on the needs of the forest," said Skemp, an avid runner and retired doctor. "We were able to plant about a thousand trees in here," Skemp said, describing a restoration project.

Volunteers also fix parts of the park damaged by fallen trees and help create Hixon's trails.

"We try to use existing man-made scars when we're designing our trails and this is an example of that," Arimond said pointing out a dirt path. "This trail that you see right here, is actually a gas line."

Grooming Hixon is about a 15-hour-per-week job in the winter.

These volunteers said their pay is the fun of doing it and the exercise.

As for the next project, "getting though the winter (and packing) the snow down," Arimond said. "People like that nice packed snow."

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