Support Your Snowmobile Club (Brad Stafford)
Published on Monday, December 12, 2016 in Guest Columns, In The News, News & Updates
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The temperatures are starting to drop, the leaves have been falling and the Big Box stores have had Christmas decorations out for at least two months. So, we all know what that means. Yup… Its time to support your snowmobile club! Last year was rough on all us snow-lovers.

Nobody Took a Harder Hit Than Snowmobile Clubs

Besides the people that make a living dealing with the white stuff, nobody took a harder hit than your snowmobile club. As usual, all the clubs went out last fall and had the trails and groomers ready for you. As you are all well aware, this takes both time, graciously donated by countless volunteers, and money! The “Time Bank” gets replenished every year by club volunteers, who donate precious hours, so that all of us can enjoy snowmobiling at home. The “Money Bank” is different, as most clubs run year to year. They sometimes overextend their monetary resources in the fall to get the trails ready, and then when the snow flies and the trail passes start to sell, the funds get replenished.

Huge Setbacks for Trails and Your Club

Well, we all know what happened last year, snow-wise. All of us were disappointed and frustrated, especially the dedicated club volunteers that had far more invested than most snowmobilers. Last year more than 50% of you saved a few dollars and waited for snow, which never came. For those that thought this was a small victory towards a lost season, I suppose you can rationalize it in your mind. But all those small gains at the individual level added up to huge setbacks for the trails and your club. It is more important than ever to invest time and money in your club this year, to insure you will be able to ride your favorite trails and insure the future of our sport.

Support Your Snowmobile Clubs

It’s ironic that the new single-price trail pass structure was finally implemented this season, on the heels of one of the worst financial years for our clubs. This structure has been debated back and forth for many years at both the club level and SAM board meetings. SAM membership (a trail pass) is made up of two parts, club dues and SAM dues. Unlike the SAM dues, which are consistent, club dues varied.

Some clubs had early bird or family discounts or some other incentives. I don’t want open a can of worms but in my opinion this “friendly” competitive price structure hurt a lot of clubs. Neighboring clubs could have a price difference of up to $20 or more. Bargain shoppers would buy the cheapest trail pass, even though the majority of their riding would be on another club’s trails.

Support Your Snowmobile Club

The new global trail pass price, which includes club and SAM dues, is $55 before December 15th and $70 after. The income breaks down to $30 for SAM, $5 for the Trail Preservation Fund, and $20 for the clubs before December 15, and $35 thereafter. For some, the new price could be a little more than last year, for others, it’s cheaper.

Invest in Your Snowmobile Trails

To all of you pulling your hair out, let’s put this in perspective. A $55 investment towards the security of riding your favorite local trail, on a snowmobile that cost thousands of dollars, is most likely less than you paid for your riding gloves, and far less than your jacket or helmet. Think about this for a minute: If your club folds up and the trails close because of lack of capital, you don’t get to ride. And not because of Mother Nature, but because of lack of support. That goes for every state in the Snowbelt. You truly need to join your club and support them, regardless of snow.

The small investment by thousands of snowmobilers adds up fast, helping the clubs and SAM, all of which go right back into the trails. It pays for grooming, repairs, bridges, trail preparation, markers, and so much more. So step-up this year, ‘Tis the Season for Giving. Support your snowmobile club for all those past and future rides. Buy your trail pass early, save money and invest in snowmobiling. I guarantee your gift will be enjoyed by you, your friends and your family. Until next time, “Keep the Rubber Side Down.”

Photos by Dan Gould

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