Drought threatens future of Enchanted Forest area

The Enchanted Forest cross-country ski and snowshoe area in northern New Mexico remains closed due to a lack of snow and the operator is seeking financial donations to help stay afloat until next year.

Ellen Miller-Goins

“This is unprecedented; there’s just no snow and we weren’t prepared for this,” says Ellen Miller-Goins of Red River, owner of the outdoor resort.

The 600-acre cross-country ski and snowshoeing area is in the Carson National Forest near Bobcat Pass between Red River and Eagle Nest.

Snowpack across New Mexico and southern Colorado is way down this year due to drought during the fall and early winter.

While many ski areas can make snow to stay open for business, Miller-Goins can’t and Enchanted Forest remains closed.

To offset the loss of business income and help cover expenses, Miller-Goins is appealing to the public for help.

Those interested in donating can go online to her fundraising campaign page on Indiegogo’s website at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/save-enchanted-forest#/.

The campaign has raised almost $8,000 from more than 80 people so far; the goal is to reach $27,500.

Country music star Michael Martin Murphy, who spends many of his summers in Red River, helped out with a benefit concert last weekend at the Motherlode Saloon. The event raised about $10,000.

“We had a good turnout and a great time,” said Miller-Goins. “It was a very intimate and wonderful concert.”

Miller-Goins says if enough snows falls in the coming months, she may be able to open, but she isn’t counting on that happening.

Kerry Jones, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, says the outlook for snow in the coming months is well below average.

“I don’t think anyone had any idea it was going to be this brutal,” Jones says of the lack of statewide precipitation this fall and early winter. “This time last year, they had four to five feet of snow at Bobcat Pass; there’s isn’t really anything on the ground up there right now.” The agency regularly measures snowpack at a site near Bobcat Pass.

The area is so dry that Colfax County Fire Marshal Larry Osborn has imposed a fire ban in some areas of the county. Angel Fire imposed its own outdoor burning ban on Friday.

The Enchanted Forest cross-country ski area was created by Miller-Goins’ parents in the mid-1980s and she has been running it since 2010.

When there’s snow on the ground, the recreation area features many miles of groomed trails, equipment rentals, lessons and heated yurts where cross-country skiers and snowshoers can spend nights in the backcountry.

“I love this place and other people do, too,” says Miller-Goins. “And New Mexico needs places like this for our tourism economy to thrive, so I hope people can help out.”

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