About the Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts
SAM is Committed to Enhancing Safe Snowmobiling in Massachusetts
The Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts (SAM) strives to develop and maintain an expanding interconnected snowmobile trail system, allowing snowmobile enthusiasts to travel from Worcester County to the Berkshires, in a safe, efficient manner. There are approximately 9,000 members of SAM, of which 70% are married and over the age of 36 years–a mature responsible group of citizens. According to a study conducted by the University of Massachusetts, snowmobiling has an economic impact of $65 million per year in our state alone! That’s taxable dollars.
SAM Board of Directors
Simply put, the 30 clubs, which are the backbone of SAM, pool their resources to better the sport of snowmobiling. Each club selects a delegate who is a SAM Board of Director. The Directors attend monthly meetings and make all decisions regarding the association, from selection of officers to policy, budgets, bylaws and strategic goals of the organization.
President: Dan Gould, Vice President: Jeff Miller, Treasurer: Mike Sarafin, Secretary: Tom Lively
The officers (president, vice president, treasurer and secretary) are elected by the Board of Director at an annual meeting held in April. In addition to our state association, several SAM members sit on the boards of regional, national and international snowmobile associations. These organizations hold yearly and quarterly meetings to develop plans to better the sport of snowmobiling all over the world.
Currently we have several active committees: trails & safety, government affairs, scholarship, charity, vintage, MARTAB, and awards. The trails & safety committee researches and makes recommendations to the body about trail standards, possible links, grooming, and safety-related issues. SAM has several Vermont certified safety course instructors who train hundreds of snowmobilers every year. SAM is very pro-active in all matters of snowmobile safety. The government affairs committee works hand in hand with the membership to file bills and promote snowmobiling on a state level.
Join a SAM Club
There are a few snowmobilers who do not understand the need to join a club and obtain SAM membership. First, let’s talk about the trespass law. Before the law was enacted there were a considerable number of non-member snowmobilers riding on private property without permission of any kind. These individuals were indeed trespassing and frequently were unregistered as well. Since passage of the law, one must either obtain written permission from each individual landowner, or join a SAM affiliated club that has obtained permission. This law mirrors that of Vermont and the VAST trail system, and has been adopted in many states and Canadian provinces.
Second, let’s discuss the subject of joining both a club and SAM. If one chooses to become a member of an affiliated club, they must also join SAM, as stated in the SAM bylaws. You cannot become a SAM member without first joining a club. This unity of snowmobilers is necessary to fund, promote, enhance and maintain the sport in our state and on a nationwide basis.
The cost of a SAM membership is set by the Board of Directors. A trail pass is proof of SAM membership. There is also a $5 SAM Trail Protection fee, dedicated to preserving snowmobile trails.
The clubs use the majority of collected funds to maintain and groom trails. The annual cost can be in the tens of thousands of dollars for a large club, not including capital costs such as groomer purchases. Club volunteers donate over 11,500 hours of trail work on public and private property annually. Snowmobiling on groomed trails is a pay-as-you-play system, membership dues are used by associations throughout the U.S. and Canada to raise the necessary funds to maintain quality trails.
The dues collected by SAM are used for many budgeted items including the major purchase of a liability insurance policy that protects the landowners and the clubs. Dues also pay for contracted services of an executive director, legislative advisor, and the SAM magazine. Over twenty thousand dollars are contracted annually from SAM back to clubs to help cover the overhead cost of grooming, which is performed by volunteers. This system of fund distribution assists the clubs who maintain a trail system and groomer fleet, a very costly endeavor. Members of clubs that do not have a trail system to maintain are paying, via a trail pass, to help groom the trails where they actually ride.
No State Funding
Many states in the snow belt enjoy the benefit of state supported funds for snowmobiling through gas tax and registration fees. SAM, on the other hand, does not receive state funds. We are completely dependent on the membership for income. Maintaining trails is expensive and those who play should support the clubs and SAM.
The Sled Expo
The Sled Expo is SAM’s largest fundraiser and used, in addition to dues, to finance the association and trails.
Trails Safety Grant
Funds are also used for the SAM “Trails Safety Grant,” which was implemented in 2005 to hire additional patrols by the Massachusetts Environmental Police Officers. This $5,000 annual grant provides increased safety checks and enforcement on over 2,000 miles of trails throughout the state, promoting snowmobiling as a safe family recreation.
SAM publishes a monthly magazine during the snow season that is used to communicate with the membership at large. We do accept outside submissions and commentary. We also host a website, www.sledmass.com and several social media outlets.