The April Fools’ Day snowstorm just added frosting to the cake of a season of heavy snowfall across the state, all season long.

“First and foremost, by all appearances, it was a very safe season. There was a lot of grooming by local clubs. Based on all of our benchmarks, the season was a huge success,” said Bob Meyers, the executive director of the Maine Snowmobile Association.

“There was an above-average snowfall and that generated much enthusiasm. The businesses that benefit from snowmobiling also appear to have done well.”

Areas that often lack snow, like along the coast, received as much as inland sections because of the direction of storms. And there is still some good late-season riding in various parts of the state.

ACTION IN AUGUSTA

On Wednesday, the Legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee will hold hearings on three bills that affect snowmobiling in the state. The bills are:

L.D. 641, “An Act to Allow a Portion of Snowmobile Registration Fees to be Used for the Repair of Trail-grooming Equipment.”

L.D. 293, “An Act to Waive Snowmobile Registration Requirements for Canadians Riding on Maine Trails.”

L.D. 993, “An Act to Allow a Snowmobile Registered in New Hampshire to be Operated in this State.”

The bill to allow a portion of the registration fees for equipment repair is not controversial and should pass without much problem. The legislation expands the use of funds in the capital equipment program. Some of the equipment used to groom and maintain trails can cost up to $200,000 and it isn’t unusual to have a repair cost thousands of dollars.

The other two bills are similar, in that if passed, Canadians and New Hampshire residents would not be required to register their sleds in Maine if they plan to ride on state trails.

The Maine Snowmobile Association opposes these bills.

“Our trails are funded on a user pay system and the only way for that to be fair and equitable is if all users pay,” said Meyers. “We have started to see a lot of Canadians come over here to ride because their fees in the provinces are higher. Many people come over from New Hampshire to Maine, because Maine has superior trails. Why would we give away this valuable service?

“The way you have wonderful trails is giving a portion of the registration fees to local clubs to help with the expense of grooming and maintaining trails. If they ride in Maine they should pay in Maine. It is a simple issue.”

Meyers says that in the 2009-2010 season, which had a fairly low number of registrations because of lack of snowfall, funds from registration of New Hampshire snowmobiles contributed over $200,000 to the trail fund. However, if L.D. 993 were passed, Mainers would not have to register their sleds in New Hampshire to ride in the Granite State.

ANNUAL BANQUET

The Maine Snowmobile Association’s annual meeting will be held on Saturday at the East Branch Sno-Rovers Clubhouse in Medway.

There will be business meetings in the morning, beginning at 11 a.m. with election of officers. There will be a time for socializing and lunch around noon.

Awards will be given out for the snowmobile club, groomer, dealer and snowmobiler of the year.

The cost is $10 per person and those who plan to attend are asked to call the MSA office at 622-6983.

Cathy Genthner is a registered Maine Guide licensed to guide snowmobile trips. She owns River Bluff Camps in Medford, located off ITS-83. She can be reached at:

[email protected]

 

 


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