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Fjeldheim Honored by DNR

Sten Fjeldheim (Athletics), head coach of the women’s and men’s Nordic ski teams, has received the Partners in Conservation Award from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Natural Resources Commission. He was honored for his work developing the Blueberry Ridge trail system and for volunteering to help groom trails each winter.

Fjeldheim began collaborating with the DNR shortly after he was hired as NMU’s coach in 1986. He said the DNR was relocating the Blueberry Ridge ski trails from the west side of County Rd. 480 to a new location on the east side of the road.

“Ski skating was just becoming a new thing during this time, so I helped to design and develop the new trail system,” he said. “I worked with the DNR to make an interesting and safe system that would allow skiers of all abilities to enjoy the trails. The NMU student athletes on the ski team were involved as well. We held several worker-bee sessions helping with trail clearing and seeding the trail bed with grass. I have also been a volunteer groomer on the trail system for many years and the NMU ski team has continued to do some volunteer trail maintenance when needed.

“It is important to volunteer on the trail system because our NMU ski team uses these trails quite often. I feel that it is important for our student athletes to do some community volunteer work and to give back as much as we can. I am very happy to be chosen for this award. It is not only an honor for me and my family, but for our athletic department and all the NMU ski team members who have helped over the years.”

Partners in Conservation Award recipients are nominated by DNR and NRC employees. They honor individuals, groups and government agencies or elected officials for their volunteer service. They also recognize demonstrated commitment to conservation, natural resource management and assisting the DNR in carrying out its mission.

The award notification letter from DNR Director Keith Creagh to Fjeldheim reads, “Your dedication to building and enhancing the trails of Michigan has been a continued asset for residents and visitors alike. … Without your expertise, commitment and dedication to the Blueberry Ridge Trail, it would not be touted as one of the top trails in the state.”

Fjeldheim is no stranger to awards. He has received numerous coaching honors from the Central Collegiate Ski Association and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. Under his leadership, the NMU ski teams have produced 75 NCAA All-Americans, five NCAA National Champions, four U.S. National Champions and 10 Olympians. A native of Haugesund, Norway, and NMU alumnus, Fjeldheim competed for the Wildcat and U.S. ski teams before he joined the coaching ranks.