It’s no secret that this winter was a bust for most snowmobilers. Except for a powerful Nor’easter that pounded parts of New England in October, the East was virtually snowless this winter season.
Upper Midwestern states of Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin had isolated snow cover, but the season was short for those areas. In the West there wasn’t appreciable snow until late in the season, but it was spotty.
Without a “real” snowmobile season across much of the Snowbelt, businesses felt the pinch. Not only are some snowmobile dealerships sitting on leftover sleds, jackets and injection oil, but many trailside hotels and restaurants had to scrape by with a fraction of their normal winter business. The effects of a low-snow winter trickles down past those main street businesses and out to the industrial park where companies that supply restaurants with bottles of ketchup, hamburger patties and the like wait for summer tourism to kick in.
But not all effects of a snowless winter are economic. Snowmobile clubs were affected by the lousy winter, too.
Snowmobilers who typically attend snowmobile club meetings during the snowmobile season didn’t see snow, so they saw no reason — or maybe they lacked motivation — to drive to their local American Legion or city hall for monthly meetings, bringing down participation and saddling more responsibility of operating the club on fewer volunteers. Without snow, fun events like club trips and radar runs that build camaraderie and raise awareness within communities about snowmobiling were cancelled.
Fortunately, you can help snowmobile clubs now so they remain strong. If you’re already a snowmobile club member, stay involved: voice your opinion about a snowmobile-related matter at meetings; serve pork chops at the landowner appreciation dinner this summer; offer to help your club with paperwork so it can apply for a grant to build a trail shelter or replace an old bridge.
If you don’t belong to a snowmobile club, this is a good time of the year to join because you can get your feet wet over the summer and be ready to help out more next fall when extra volunteer help is needed.
Snowmobile clubs rely on volunteers who have a wide range of skills and experience in order to conduct day-to-day business and special events. Even though we just suffered through a miserable winter that sapped the enthusiasm for the sport from many snowmobilers (hopefully only temporarily, though), snowmobiling needs someone like you to be involved.
Don’t forget about the good times you’ve had with fellow club members, or think about the fun you could have with fellow snowmobilers in your community who you have yet to meet. When snow drops out of the sky again in the future, you’ll be able to build fellowship and create more great memories.