Snowmobilers get ready season [UPDATED]Published 11:47am Tuesday, October 23, 2012 Updated 11:57am Tuesday, October 23, 2012
While some enjoyed our mild winter last year, there is quite a contingency around Battle Lake that would like to get dumped on with piles of the flaky white stuff- the sooner the better.
Members of the Pine Ridge Drifters Snowmobile Club have already been out working on trails from Battle Lake to Clitherall. Equipped with weed whackers, brush trimmers and post pounders, members of the club were out Saturday, Oct. 13 clearing trails of debris and replacing directional sign posts.
“Most people that use the trails don’t realize they are maintained by volunteers,” explained Drifters Club member Janet Widness. According to Widness, there are about 20 more miles of trail to clear just in their area. The club will be tackling the work over the next month, working around hunting season, and are looking for new members to join in and help out. Area clubs in West Central Minnesota’s Region 9, take care of about 300 miles of trails. Throughout Minnesota, clubs and volunteers maintain 21,340 miles of trails, while the state is responsible for another 600 miles.
It is snowmobilers that pay for the hard costs of trail maintenance through registration fees on snowmobiles, trail pass fees and tax on gas paid when purchasing fuel for snowmobiles.
Funds are distributed through a grant-in-aid program, generally to local nonprofit snowmobile clubs, to pay for equipment purchase and rental, fuel, culverts, bridges, signage, trail maps and insurance. Club members volunteer their time to do trail work and seasonal trail grooming.
“Helping out with trail maintenance is also very social,” adds Widness. “We usually have a picnic along the trail.” The Pine Ridge Drifters Snowmobile Club meets throughout the year, has scheduled long distance and overnight rides, and social opportunities to meet other snow sports enthusiasts.
By Darla Ellingson