History of the Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts: Part II (Brad Stafford)
The Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts: Created by snowmobilers in the past, for the snowmobilers of the future. In part one, I wrote how back in the late 1960’s a group of snowmobilers had the foresight to see that with the growth of our sport there was going to be concerns from landowners, state agencies and a host of other issues. They needed to have a well-represented and organized voice, and a way to work through any issues. They banded together and created the Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts, which we call SAM. I’m pretty sure they had no idea that over the next 40-plus years SAM, and the sport of snowmobiling in Massachusetts, would grow as it has.
There are around 16,500 registered snowmobiles in Massachusetts, and about 8,000 SAM members. With over 2,100 miles of trails, the demographics show that snowmobilers ride an average of 1,100 miles a year. We like to ride to destinations, to get together with friends for meals and club events, and to visit scenic, natural attractions, like the peak of Mt. Greylock or the Beehive in Hawley, to name a few.
All together snowmobiling in Massachusetts contributes over $65 million dollars to the state’s economy every year. That is positive economic impact! According to statistics, the average snowmobiler is 43-years old, and is married with children. Despite the occasional cheap shot in the press, this proves that snowmobiling is a mature family recreation.
As snowmobilers, we get to enjoy our sport in Massachusetts for one reason: SAM. All the years of hard work by the clubs and the dedication of countless members made this happen. It didn’t happen by accident.
Today, SAM has 30 individual clubs that own and operate over 100 groomers across the state. The volunteers maintain our ITS (Interconnected Trail System) so we can ride from town-to-town and access restaurants, stores, gas stations, hotels, club houses, and if needed, repair shops.
These trails stretch from Worcester County to the NY border and allow direct access to the Vermont and New Hampshire trail systems, with connections north to Maine, Canada and beyond. Around 65% of these trails are on private land. The rest are on state-owned or managed properties.
SAM is self-funded, the primary revenues being generated by membership sales (the trail pass) and events, like the Snow Expo at the Big E. Keep in mind that SAM does not receive funding from the state. SAM is a non-profit organization, and one way or another, all the funds raised by SAM support the trail system.
The most amazing fact is that all the work done to keep SAM operating smoothly (and our trails smooth, too) is by volunteers! From the SAM Delegates and club officers, right down to the club’s “Weekend Warriors.” We are Volunteers! SAM and its volunteers make up the largest trail organization in the state. From keeping track of legislation in Boston to putting up a trail sign, and all the pieces of the puzzle in between, it’s done by people that still have the same goals as that group back in the 60’s. We love to snowmobile and work hard to protect the privilege to ride.
So, the next time you hear someone talk about not getting a trail pass because the state will waste the money, let them know it’s not true and how important it is to support SAM and the local clubs any way you can. Whether you volunteer time, make a donation to your club, or just buy a SAM trail pass, do it regardless if we have snow or not. Do it out of respect to those that have done so much over the years to get us to where we are and as an investment in the future of our sport.
Ride safe and Keep the Rubber Side Down.