As well as things worked out between the U.S. Forest Service and the Grand Mesa Nordic Council, it’s puzzling why things had to get into a twist in the first place.

In hindsight, it was pretty obvious that letting logging trucks take over a primary cross-country skiing trail on Grand Mesa through early winter was going to ruffle some feathers. The ease with which the Forest Service was able to change the permitting conditions for the timber sale — primarily the time frame for the logging operation — suggests the Forest Service may have acted hastily.

But did it? The whole premise for the timber sale it to improve forest health and make trees more resistant to disease, insects and fire. If a wildfire were to ravage the area before that section of forest can be thinned in 2023, we’re looking at another controversy entirely. So long as that doesn’t happen, kudos to all parties involved for coming to a reasonable compromise.

There’s a joke in here somewhere about Nordic skiers becoming the new spotted owl — able to thwart a timber harvest without doing much of anything but existing. But that’s unfair to the council, which isn’t opposed to logging.

In fact, logging is a reason why the complex of trails at Skyway and County Line has evolved into a mecca for cross-country skiing. Some of the trails there were once used to haul harvested timber out of the forest, though GMNC says the majority were built specifically for non-motorized use. Many were built with volunteer efforts of GMNC members.

Stands of Engelmann spruce have to be thinned every 30 or 40 years, the Forest Service says. The Nordic Council has had a permit with the Grand Mesa Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest for recreational use of about 30 miles of trail since 1990, the Colorado Sun reported. So, this conflict between recreation and timber management has largely been avoided due to good timing.

Now that it’s time to fell some trees, the work has to be done in winter. Rocks and soft soils on the mesa make operations difficult on bare ground. It’s easier to move trucks and equipment over frozen and snow-packed ground.

A project by Montrose Forest Products, which originally was to involve the use by logging trucks of Scales Lake Road early this winter until Dec. 23, now is planned for February and March of 2023. The company also plans to complete the project in one season. These changes help resolve concerns about the impacts on skiers.

Scales Lake Road is a main artery for the Nordic trail system and one of the first routes that can traditionally be opened for skiing because it’s smoother than many of the routes that require more snow before they can be ready for skiers. Changing the timing of the logging operation allows for more snow accumulation so that temporary alternative routes can be established connecting Skyway and County Line trails once Scales Road is being used for logging in February 2023.

“It’s pleasing to us that that was the final outcome,” said Christie Aschwanden, the Nordic Council’s executive director. “I wish it wouldn’t have taken so much work to get here, but the important thing is where we ended up.”

True, but the push and pull of the experience should be instructive for the Forest Service. Next time, maybe the agency will bring everyone to the table to hammer out a win-win before a kerfuffle demands it.