In a recent survey, 89 percent of snowmobilers said that this winter they plan to ride at least as much as they normally do, with 44 percent saying they expect to exceed their average amount of riding this season.
Yowza, we’re an optimistic group! In this stressful era, maybe that’s understandable – we all want something to look forward to, and snowmobilers know there’s hardly any better way to clear the mind while social distancing in style than riding through endless miles of wondrous winter scenery while seated behind a handlebar.
Aside from that glorious thing called snow, the most vital requirement needed for riders to be able to attain these lofty goals are trails and other available land on which to ride.
For those, we need snowmobile clubs, and this year as much if not more so than ever, the snowmobile clubs need you right back – and by “you” we’re not just talking about folks who have never belonged to a club but also people who were previously dues-paying members that may have let their membership lapse.
Obviously 2020 has been a challenging year for everybody with the COVID-19 situation and its resulting restrictions on public gatherings and crowd sizes, among other things. It has affected virtually everything in society – including snowmobile clubs.
Frankly put, the incredible success that has allowed snowmobile clubs to build and maintain trail networks has largely been driven by interpersonal relationships – among the club members themselves but also between club members and private land owners, land managers, local business owners, political and administrative leaders, law enforcement agencies, charities and so many others. Most snowmobile clubs may technically be in the trail building and maintenance business, so to speak, but ultimately they are in the people business.
However, this year most of those interactions have been tested to say the least – from the cancellation of annual International Snowmobile Congress to state- or province-wide workshops and annual meetings, monthly local club meetings to landowner appreciation dinners, summer appearances at local town festivals to club fundraisers, the means through which club members interact with other snowmobilers and with their communities has been altered. Zoom-style video calls have filled part of the void, but only to a point.
Judging from the aforementioned survey results, the pandemic hasn’t dampened the desire of snowmobilers to go riding – don’t let it dampen your enthusiasm to support and potentially participate in snowmobiling’s vital grass roots network: the clubs. They are still responsible for the trails in most areas, still offer a circle of friends with whom you can go riding, and still protect and promote your favorite sport in so many ways.
Another reason why snowmobile club membership is so vitally important right now is that, when it comes to getting consistent funding and support from governmental bodies for our trails, membership numbers equal power, and power equals money.
That’s always been the case, but there’s a bit of reckoning on the horizon when it comes to budgets because (1) federal spending to prop up the economy has blown up the federal budget deficit; and (2) tax receipts are down due to the downturn in the economy. That’s going to create problems, particularly for state and regional governments that are forced to balance their budgets. Bottom line: Politicians are going to be looking for places to cut!
In many states and provinces, there are funding mechanisms in place to help snowmobiling – money collected from sled registrations and/or trail permit stickers may be dedicated to supporting the trails, or a small percentage of the gas tax collected may be rebated back to clubs and associations based on an estimate of how much gas is used by off-road vehicles like snowmobiles.
The future of our sport’s infrastructure depends on protecting those sources – and when your state or provincial snowmobile associations make their appeal to do just that, they can make their case much more forcefully if they can claim more members. It really is important.
Do The Right Thing
For those wanting to ride a lot this winter, a club also provides more riding opportunities with like-minded people, an ability to have input on the trails and a chance to help out fellow snowmobilers, and your community. It also gives you a chance to do the right thing!
Below, you will find a list of snowmobile clubs that are very specifically reaching out to you, seeking your support and membership. They sponsored this article. Hopefully you’ll find one near you or in a riding area you frequent so that you can join up. If not, please go to the snowmobile club directory on SnowGoer.com and find a club in the appropriate area.
We all have a lot to protect in this great sport of snowmobiling – and a lot to lose if it goes away. So, act today.
Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association
Snowbirds of Amboy
Snowbirds of Amboy Inc. on Facebook
North Country Snowmobile Club
Big Lake Sno-Cruisers
Sno Barons Snowmobile Club
Crow Wing County Snowmobile Trails Association
Caledonia Sno-Gophers Snowmobile Club on Facebook
Carver County Snowrunners
Clearwater Trail Blazers
Snow Thrashers of Dalton
Dalton Snow Thrashers on Facebook
Bay Lake Sno-Packers
United Lakes & Trail Riders Assn (ULTRA)
Ultra Snowmobile Club on Facebook
Ely Igloo Snowmobile Club
Ely Igloo Snowmobile Club on Facebook
Blizzard Snowmobile Club
Faribo Sno-Go Club Inc.
Hamel Sno Runners
Hamel Sno-Runners on Facebook
North West Trails Association
International Voyageurs Snowmobile Club Inc.
Maple Plain Snomads
Monticello Trailblazers Snowmobile Club
River Valley Trail Blazers
South Tonka Sno-Mobilers
Moonshiners Snowmobile Club
Moonshiners Snowmobile Club on Facebook
IL Association of Snowmobile Clubs, Inc.
Cedarville Snow Travelers
Cedarville Snowtravelers on Facebook
Prairie Drifters Snowmobile Club
Prairie Drifters Snowmobile Club on Facebook
Tri-County Snowmobile Alliance
North Central Illinois
Tri-County Snowmobile Alliance on Facebook
Whiteside County Snowbirds
Whiteside County Snowbirds on Facebook
Woodstock Snowmobile Club
South Dakota Snowmobile Association
Dakota Trail Blazers on Facebook
Town & Country Snowdrifters Snowmobile Club
Town & Country Snowdrifters on Facebook
Whetstone Valley Snowmobile Assn.
Whetsone Valley Snowmobile Association on Facebook
Black Hills Snowmobile Club
Black Hills Snowmobile Club on Facebook
SnoTrackers Snowmobile Club
South Dakota YETIS (Youth Empowerment Through Involvement in Snowmobiling)
South Dakota YETIS on Facebook
AWSC-Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs
Burnett County Snow Trails Association
Burnett County Snow Trails Association on Facebook
Cozy Corner Trails, Inc.
Cozy Corner Trails Inc on Facebook
Midnight Riders, Inc.
Midnight Riders Snowmobile Club/Dorchester Wisconsin on Facebook
Hudson Snowtrails Unlimited
Hudson Snowtrails Unlimited on Facebook
Lakeshore Snowmobile Club
Markesan Sno-Drifters Snowmobile Club on Facebook
West Shore Snow Pistons
N. Fond du Lac
West Shore Snow Pistons on Facebook
Navarino Knight Riders
North Lake Nomads
Oconomowoc Throttle Jockeys
Phelps Snowmobile Club
Plymouth Snow Rangers
Rudolph River Rovers
Rudolph River Rovers on Facebook
Sussex Sled Bugs Snowmobile Club
Bear Point Sno-Cruisers
Wonderland Sno Trails