December 9, 2012

Tough going for snowmobilers

With a lack of snow hurting registrations, the state's clubs are doing more with less to get trails ready for the season.

By Leslie Bridgers lbridgers@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Brian Williams, left, and Joe Sayah, members of the Windham Drifters Snowmobile Club, erect a fence between a trail and a field as the club gets ready for the upcoming riding season.

Photos by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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Brian Williams clips branches to improve safety on a snowmobile trail in Windham. Snowmobile clubs across the state are operating on reduced budgets with both snowfall and registrations on the decline.

Additional Photos Below

REGISTRATION FEES

BREAKDOWN OF $40 RESIDENT REGISTRATION:

$20.24 to snowmobile program for trail maintenance grants

$8.14 to Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife

$6.62 to municipality of registrant

$5 to snowmobile program for equipment grants

BREAKDOWN OF $88 NON-RESIDENT REGISTRATION:

$60.36 to snowmobile program for trail maintenance grants

$22.64 to Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife

$5 to snowmobile program for equipment grants

Source: Maine Dept. of Conservation, Bureau of Parks and Lands

For the Windham Drifters, that funding source covers more than half of the club's operating budget.

Since Windham is one of the towns with the most registered snowmobiles -- 644 last year, down from 1,090 the year before -- the Drifters will have one of the biggest losses in funding this year.

Still, the club's members have been out marking trails and building bridges this fall with the same enthusiasm -- or maybe even more.

"Help make this THE BEST SEASON EVER!!" Constantine wrote in a note on the club's website asking for help putting in some of the final stakes this weekend.

"We're very optimistic," he said.

Meyers said the rule of thumb is that a poor snowfall one season is followed by a heavy one the next. "We think it's going to be great. We prepare as if it's going to be great," he said.

Climatologists aren't so certain. Jessica Rennells of the Northeast Regonal Climate Center said there have been no major indicators of whether snowfall this winter will be above or below normal.

But if Meyers is right and a heavy snowfall turns registration numbers around, the clubs will have their funding restored -- and fewer worries next winter.

"The good news is," he said, "all is forgiven once it snows."

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at: 791-6364 or at

lbridgers@pressherald.com

 

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