Organizations! (Larry Tucker)
Published on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 in Guest Columns, Legislative Affairs, News & Updates
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(The photo above depicts the founding fathers of SAM viewing a new piece of equipment that was purchased to send newsletters to members in 1972.) I hope that by now you have all seen billions of the “white flakes” in your riding areas and that the weather is below freezing. Interestingly though, I took a straw poll at one of our club meetings and half of the members feel as though we will have a great winter and half thought we would have a repeat of last winter. And, in case you’re wondering, the Farmer’s Almanac is predicting much colder temperatures than last winter. My own feeling is that we are overdue for a record snowfall this winter, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part.

While the type of winter we will have is an unknown, something we do know is that we in the snowmobile community in Massachusetts are blessed with a strong organizational structure. I mention this because I get the sense that we sometimes take our clubs and our state association, the Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts or SAM for granted.

The very reason that we are even able to ride in this year of 2010 is because of the long history of SAM, as our strong, statewide organization, and the support that the very active 30+ clubs provides as the foundation of SAM. Our history is rooted in a strong belief that by sticking together we will remain successful in our need to create, maintain and preserve our approximate 1,000-mile trail system in Massachusetts.

How many of you remember when a small group of dedicated snowmobilers met for the first time in 1969 and a gentleman by the name of Maurice Lamothe was elected as the first President of SAM? The reason I mention this is because these men and women recognized the need to have a coordinated effort to obtain landownerpermissions throughout the state, to form a strong foundation for our trail system. This need was a constant through the years and continues today as SAM is working to further strengthen and preserve our trial system.

Let’s take a good reference point check by viewing two other sports that are very much similar to snowmobiling in that they have the same need to create, maintain and preserve a safe, legal trail system. The sport of bicycling has been and continues to be very successful with the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition or MassBike, for short. They are dedicated to creating a statewide bicycle trail network. In fact, bicyclists are so well organized that in August their sport received 3.8 million dollars for a 2.7-mile path with half or 1.9 million dollars used to put a bridge over Route 9 in Northampton. Imagine if the state spent that amount on our snowmobile trail system – but that’s a story for another day. Unfortunately, the sport of ATV’ing has not been blessed with a strong multi-club structure to create and secure a good, legal trail system. The Massachusetts ATV Association continues to work towards this goal and may have received a boost from the new ATV bill, which passed in July. It includes an important provision that both encourages and allows for ATV riders to join clubs and a state association with the benefit of obtaining trail permission for the club or association rather than individuals having to obtain written permission from many landowners. Much like SAM does. Evidence of this can be seen in the city of Westfield as it is working in conjunction with the Department of Conservation and Recreation to create a safe ATV park. Knowing that all snowmobilers have benefited for many years from having the strong organizational structure of both snowmobile clubs and SAM to help create, maintain and protect our trail system. So, let’s all say a big ”THANK YOU” to all the member volunteers of our clubs and SAM for their good work.

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