AUGUSTA — The Fox Glen Snowmobile Club sold its clubhouse on the east side of Augusta last month after years of declining membership.

It could no longer afford the $5,000 to $7,000 annual cost of maintaining the building on Buck and Doe Trail, and it would have been heading for a bankruptcy filing.

Down from 29 active members to nine over the past 10 years, the group now struggles to do the maintenance required to prepare the trails for the upcoming season.

“It’s dying out; there’s no young blood,” said trail master Mark Lapointe, 61, of Windsor.

The problem is that the trail system depends on volunteers – a different metric than overall snowmobile membership, which is holding steady – and registrations, which are on the rise.

“To me, it’s an indication of how fragile the trail system is,” said Bob Meyers, executive director of the Augusta-based Maine Snowmobile Association, which will be 50 years old in 2018.

Maine Snowmobile Association Executive Director Bob Meyers poses with a large, early 1980s map of the Interconnected Trail System on Wednesday in the group’s Augusta office. Meyers said the map folds in half and was used for meetings with regional clubs as the system was being built.

The association counted 9,466 households as members in 2016-2017, up from 9,125 the previous year. In its heydey around the early 2000s, the membership reached about 11,000 households, he said.

Businesses also belong to the association. There were 2,188 in 2016-2017 and 2,102 the prior season, while 9,800 families and 2,100 businesses post conditions during snowmobiling season.

It’s a familiar refrain: The people doing the work to maintain almost 14,000 miles of snowmobile trails are getting older and tired. They find it harder to pick up a chainsaw and other tools to work in the woods to clear blow-downs and other debris that might impede the progress of snow machines.

They’re hoping for a transfusion of younger blood, but time is running short.

The Fayette Ridge Riders put out a notice earlier this year saying, “There will be no trails if we don’t get more people.”

“There’s just a core group of people working on it, and the youngster is 65,” said Lisa Andrews, club treasurer.

A few new, younger riders responded to the plea.

“We’ve had a better response with trail maintenance help,” said her husband, John Andrews, who is also the trail master. “People seem to be understanding that it’s important we get some assistance with that.”

Meyers said the industry is worth an estimated $350 million-plus a year. “It’s a huge economic driver in the wintertime,” he said, and the association posts trail conditions during the snowmobiling season.

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: betadams

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