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Home arrow Opinion arrow Cabin takes chill off winter


Cabin takes chill off winter

Members of the La Grande Sno-Drifters assemble their club's new log cabin in October. Those working, left to right, are Mitch Williams, Nick Milner and Scott Wilde. - Photo/GREG BLACKMAN
Members of the La Grande Sno-Drifters assemble their club's new log cabin in October. Those working, left to right, are Mitch Williams, Nick Milner and Scott Wilde. - Photo/GREG BLACKMAN
You do not need a key, money or even a reservation to enter this new forest cabin.

Snowmobiles, cross country skis and snowshoes instead are your passes.

Introducing a new building that may someday help save lives and is already a hit with visitors. It is a day cabin just completed by the La Grande Sno-Drifters snowmobile club and open at all times, free of charge to the public.

The cabin is in the Taylor Green portion of north Baker County near Flagstaff Butte, 20 miles east of the Catherine Creek Summit sno-park. The cabin features a woodstove, firewood, benches, tables, candles and an adjacent restroom — all to help snowmobilers, skiers and snowshoers re-energize.

"It's a good place to get out of the weather, warm up and dry out,'' said Greg Blackman of Island City, president of the Sno-Drifters.

The cabin opened about two weeks ago and has already been used by a number of people.

"People have been very impressed,'' Blackman said. "They've said it was really needed in the area.''

The cabin, near U.S. Forest Service Road 77, will remain available for the rest of the winter. People can reach it riding snowmobiles, cross country skiing or snowmobiling.

The cabin is relatively easy to get to because it is just off a trail system regularly groomed by the Sno-Drifters. Another good point about the location is that it is in a site where there is cell phone reception. This is significant since many portions of the Catherine Creek area are in cell phone dead spots.

The shelter is designed for day use only, Blackman said. It has no beds or space for sleeping bags and no running water and electricity.

The cabin will be locked each spring and reopened each winter.

The club will also make the cabin available to forest firefighting crews in the summer and as a base for search and rescue operations at any time.

The cost of building the cabin was about $37,000. About half of the expense was covered by a grant of about $18,000 from the State Parks and Recreation Department.

Those who donated services or provided discounts for their work and materials included Bronson Log Homes of Enterprise, Bronson Lumber of La Grande, the Mike Becker construction company, Hampton Paving, Rogers Asphalt and George Hagedorn Logging.

The cabin was built by the Sno-Drifters over three weekends in October. The structure was assembled earlier in Enterprise by Bronson Log Homes. It was then taken apart and transported to the Taylor Green area. The logs were marked so that La Grande Sno-Drifters volunteers knew where each went and in what order they should be assembled. The structure was put up with little difficulty.

"It was like a kit. It was kind of like cabin building for dummies,'' Blackman said with a smile.

Blackman and other Sno-Drifters members have been working on the cabin project for seven years. Fundraising and the process of getting permits from the U.S. Forest Service took up most of the time.

A permit could not be granted until the Forest Service completed an environmental impact study for the project. The Forest Service granted its permit after determining that the cabin would cause minimal impact on the environment. A key reason is that it is not near a creek, Blackman said.

A sign will later be placed outside the log structure. The sign will have a list crediting those who assisted with the project. The sign will also give users instructions and encourage them to be considerate.

"We want people to leave it like they found it and treat it as if it is their own,'' Blackman said.

Every attempt was made to protect the cabin from vandals.

"We made it as bullet proof as possible,'' Blackman said.

He believes that if people treat it with respect, the cabin it will have a long life.

"It's built to last for many years.''


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