Snowmobile Trail Protection Fund Launched (Dan Gould)
The importance of trail preservation and land conservation were outlined last month in this space. As I said then, snowmobile trails are a priority. It’s understandable how land sales have negatively impacted our trail system and are only going to get worse if we aren’t proactive. It just so happens we have been working on this for years.
Approximately two years ago each delegate was given a questionnaire asking their club to identify key pieces of property that should be considered for trail protection, or property where a trail didn’t yet exist but would make an interesting prospect for a new connection.
We then utilized an RTP grant to educate our members about easements and prepare the legal paperwork to execute them. We had several training sessions throughout the state and the documents were distributed to the clubs. Since then we’ve had several successful easements, which is absolutely amazing.
Land easements, partnering with trusts and possibly even buying property are realistic options, but cost money. Big money. The next logical question was funding such a program.
Last season the delegates debated several items related to a unified dues structure and a possible price increase. That was in response to several clubs voicing concerns about grooming and trail maintenance costs, and variations in dues among clubs. This took months of study and thoughtful consideration but the body was split and it didn’t pass.
A month after that decision, the delegates earmarked funds towards a specific land protection project, money that wasn’t in the budget. They made the right call, they absolutely had to take action, but this isn’t the proper way to implement such lofty goals.
The delegates quickly realized that there was a dire need to implement a trail protection fee of $5 for each trail pass and took action. The new Snowmobile Trail Protection Fund will be a dedicated fund, allowing SAM to move forward as outlined in our strategic plan to maintain and expand our interconnected trail system.
There are plenty of twists and turns ahead but we are accelerating at a rapid pace, leaving a nice snow roost behind. Looking back it seems as though it was just a few years ago that our executive director rounded us up for a strategic planning meeting, when in fact it was in 2006.
That was a long time ago. Goals like this can be so distant, so out of reach, that they seem impossible at first. I guess that what makes accomplishments and dreaming so sweet.