Grooming the Trails
Guest Blogger: Bob Meyers, Executive Director of the Maine Snowmobile Association
In spite of an extended summer thanks to remnants of hurricanes stalling off Maine, the leaves are finally changing and soon enough another winter will be upon us. If you’re one of the 85,000+ people who enjoyed some of the finest snowmobiling on earth this past winter, these pictures may not look like much, but they’re nothing but good news for you.
As much as we wish the snow fairies would magically make awesome trails appear the minute some flakes touch the ground, the reality is that world-class snowmobile trails require a world-class effort by volunteers all year. This work is in the Caribou area, and similar projects are taking place all over Maine’s 14,500 miles of trails. Volunteers who belong to 289 clubs statewide are out in the summer obtaining landowner permission, grading trails, replacing culverts and bridges and brushing trails. Their efforts make the difference when the snow finally arrives, and the finished product is ready for your enjoyment.
Each year when the trails open it seems like another miracle has happened. The miracle is the dedication of the thousands of volunteers statewide. Let’s look at the numbers:
Grooming hours totaled 64,048.
Trail maintenance hours on projects like you see in the pictures totaled 73,390.
And then there’s the cost to it all, which last year totaled over $6.3 million. Grants that are funded by snowmobile registration dollars and a small portion of the state gas tax reimbursed clubs just over $4 million last year. That leaves $2.3 million that needs to be made up somehow. A generous amount comes from businesses that support the local clubs because they know that the reason they’re full every winter is because of those great trails. And also because it’s the right thing to do. Equally important are club fundraisers, memberships, and donations.
The people working on these trails have jobs. They’re farmers and teachers and businessmen and truck drivers. This, if you can believe it, is their “hobby.” Their dedication to your good ride and the pride they take in knowing that they are the reason something big and important happens in Aroostook County and across the state every year.
Best of all, everyone who takes part in snowmobiling in Maine can become a part of it. Join a club where you ride. That membership says, “I appreciate what you do, and I want to help.” There’s many benefits. Being a member of a Maine snowmobile club has its privileges. You’ll get the inside scoop on what’s happening where you ride. You get to meet the folks who make it all happen, and yes, you’re one of them now. Equally important at some clubhouses, your membership entitles you to a club house pass key that gives you access to a warm bathroom on those twenty-below night – priceless!
Just like grading the trails now makes sense, it’s also time to join those clubs – It may be the best snowmobile decision you make this season.
See you on the trails.