"Everybody thinks snow is the most important ingredient for skiing," Thom Perkins told OnTheSnow.com. "It really isn't; it's land. Without land we can't go on the snow."

Perkins, 62, executive director of Jackson Ski Touring Foundation in Jackson, N.H., has been nurturing cross-country skiing in the Mount Washington Valley since 1976.

Perkins received the Al Merrill Award last May from the New Hampshire ski industry. The award is named after legendary figure Al Merrill, Dartmouth ski coach, Olympic ski coach, Olympic trail designer, and all-around force in New Hampshire cross-country skiing. The award is given yearly to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to cross-country skiing in the Granite State.

"He was a really great guy, who used to come over here and help me with races," Perkins said. "It's a very nice honor."

JSTF was given three new permanent easements for ski trails this past summer, bringing the number of easements to 13. The Foundation owns little land on its own, and relies on the support and goodwill of property owners in the area to operate its world-class network of more than 154 kilometers of ski and snowshoe trails.

JSTF also received a gift of 69 acres of land at higher elevation above Jackson, and plans are to create a learning center on what Perkins calls perfect beginner terrain.

He said the Foundation also will put up a shelter there, so skiers and snowshoers can get out of the weather while awaiting rides back to town late in the season, when shuttle buses carry them to the only skiing still available.

"We have times when we have skiing in that area but not here in town, and we shuttle people up there. In the afternoon everybody wants to come back, but there's not enough room to take everybody in the bus at the same time, so with a shelter they can wait out of the weather for their ride," Perkins said.

Gorham Bike and Ski runs the ski shop in the Ski Touring Center. Perkins said this winter a Swix Wax Concept Shop will also operate in the Center, where visitors will get to see every product Swix makes, and learn about cross-country wax.

"It's pretty cool. There's only one of these shops, out West, at Vail. They've selected Jackson for the second one because of our history and reputation, and what we do here," Perkins said.

He said the Foundation also is creating a program to encourage people to get out and try new trails. JSTF is putting up stations around the trail system with unique stamps that people can stamp passports with, and receive pins for completing so many kilometers, or so many miles on the trail.

The Foundation has social programs through the winter, Friday Gliders for skiers, Tuesday Trekkers for snowshoers, where groups go out, have fun on the trails, and return to the Center for wine and cheese.

An adult season pass costs $115 until Nov. 30. An adult daily pass costs $21.

More information. Or call 603-383-9355.