History of the Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts (Brad Stafford)
Published on Sunday, December 15, 2013 in Education, Guest Columns, News & Updates
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SAM: Created by snowmobilers in the past, for the snowmobilers of the future. Part 1

A while back I wrote about a conversation with a fellow snowmobiler. He was bragging about how he didn’t get screwed by the state and saved some money by not buying a SAM trail pass during a “Green Winter.”

I then tried to explain how SAM isn’t a state-governed entity, but is one that works with the state agencies like DCR, Dept of Fish and Wildlife, Mass Environmental Police and many others, that SAM is a self-governed group whose officers are volunteers that are actually elected by the snowmobile clubs, and that all of the funds raised from the SAM trail pass end up, one way or another, back on our trails and that the club dues stay right with the clubs.

Knowing that conversations like this have taken place before and will again, I contacted Dan Gould, the SAM President, to get some facts and figures. He sent me one of the earliest SAM newsletters on file, dated 1972, which will be posted at sledmass.com for all to view.

Below are some of the reasons why snowmobilers created the Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts and why we need to continue supporting SAM every season, so it can support us.

SAM was started back in 1969, by a group of snowmobilers who banded together to protect the sport that they had come to enjoy.

snowmobile history in Massachusetts

Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts officers viewing purchased addressing system in 1972. (L-R) John Ramsey Director, President Maurice Lamothe, John Bergen Sales Manager for Pamco Eaton Distributor for the Addressing Firm, Henry Noyes and John Brewer Directors.

By reading through the newsletter, I learned that back in the late ‘60’s our sport was growing fast, and like today, not everyone was a fan of snowmobiling. As more and more sleds hit the trail they rode wherever they could, unorganized, which was not so popular with the landowners or some of the general public.

There were accidents and confrontations between snowmobilers, landowners and the police. The news media was exploiting the situation, trying to depict snowmobiling in a “less than enviable image.”

These snowmobilers realized they needed a voice to work with state legislators before laws and regulations were created. They wanted to control their own destiny. They knew they had to organize clubs throughout the state, to be connected with legislators, landowners, other state snowmobile associations, the manufacturers and the public.

They already understood that riding our sleds on private property was a privilege and it came with responsibilities and a need for respect for the landowners.

Here is a quote from the 1972 newsletter. “All of us feel that we have the right to snowmobile when and where we choose, but how many of us acknowledge the duty that cannot be divorced from that right?

As for the future, the Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts will continue to promote the sport of snowmobiling as a safe family activity, not only through legislation, but by working with the manufacturers through our dealer and distributor members, and also by working with the International Snowmobile Industry Association to produce safer more reliable machines.

S.A.M. will also continue to work along with the various state agencies and local clubs to develop and mark trails. Hopefully, the future holds a full time lobbyist at the State House and a full time secretary whose job will be to keep everyone informed.”

Because this group had the vision to build the Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts we have many miles of trails and are supported by state agencies, private landowners and countless volunteers and their clubs.

How many miles, clubs and snowmobiles you ask? Tune in next time to read about those facts and more! Until then “Keep the Rubber Side Down”


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