One of the concepts that busy lifestyles seem to overlook is that of “balance”. Think of it as a “give and take”, where one needs to balance their taking and consuming with giving and producing. If everyone was a “taker”, who would do all of the giving?
This fundamental principal applies to snowmobiling. Every time we ride a groomed trail, a club spent hours brushing, grooming and maintaining it for your enjoyment. But what did you give in return?
Most riders believe it is their tourism dollar that is their form of “giving”, or their trail permit that should be enough. Fact is, these dollars don’t make it often enough to the club who does all of the work. They need you on THEIR membership list. Are you?
Why is it so many snowmobilers do not belong to a local snowmobile club of any sort, either where they live or ride? Nor do they belong to a state snowmobile association. Nor do they belong to a fight-to-ride group or land use group, like the Blue Ribbon Coalition. With the amount of money invested in the toys, wouldn’t you think each and everyone of us would be doing everything possible to ensure the continued access to the land and trails we hold so dear to our hearts?
Here’s our challenge; every one of us needs to increase our memberships in all of these organizations. Strength is in numbers, and snowmobilers are grossly outnumbered when it comes to political issues that are dealt with on a daily basis by all of these organizations.
Further, each of us needs to lean on our riding buddies to do the same. Anytime you go somewhere and enjoy the land or the trails they have to offer, it is the LEAST you can do to join their club. Clubs are not for the locals only, they should be joined by everyone who rides in that area! You may not be able to volunteer your labor to help maintain and groom the trails, but you can sure show your support in the form of joining and contributing.
Ideally, it could become near cult-status to be a member in more clubs than anyone else you know. This should be sheik, a cool thing to boast about, that you are such a staunch supporter of your sport that you belong to clubs in four or five states! Don’t stop with the local clubs, join the state snowmobile associations also. They need your name on a “paid” list to demonstrate their support in their political battles, fighting to keep the land you use open for future generations. They also need your money to fight the mounting legal battles against well-funded city-slickers who don’t have a clue what really happens in the forest, but are so gullible to contribute to every “save the forest” campaign that shows up in their mailbox or at their door.
Most local club memberships amount to a measly $20, as do most state associations. If this is too much to ask for to support the club that grooms the trails you ride on, then maybe you shouldn’t have bought such expensive equipment!
I can already hear the whiners now. “We already pay registration fees, gas taxes, and we spend gobs of cash in their communities at the motels, food & drink establishments and on gas. They already get a bunch of our money!-Do you really think much of that cash ever sees the clubs and state associations we’re talking about? Yes, gas tax revenues and trail permits do end up fueling the grooming funds in many areas, but with something like only 3% of northern states’ populations involved in the sport of snowmobiling, those who support us and provide the path of enjoyment for all of us need our help. Yes, you spend a lot of money on this sport already, but an attitude of complacency is only going to catch us all flat-footed. When you pull up to your “favorite trail” only to find a “closed” sign on it because some new landowner shut us out, don’t complain. Don’t complain when a law is changed regarding where and when we can ride. It happened to personal watercraft, and it can happen to us. Curfews are already being imposed in some areas, how far behind could outright closure be?
If we can afford all of the cash it takes to buy our adrenaline-infused toys, then we can squeeze out a few extra bucks and add our names to the lists of those who are doing their part. Clubs could provide stickers or something that could be worn or displayed like stars on a general (remember all of the club patches riders used to sew onto their nylon suits back in the late 60s & early 70s?). He who wears the most stars should be held in high regard, as they clearly care for the future of our sport enough to take the time and effort to be counted.
I’ll be the first to admit that local clubs really don’t do a great job at making visitors aware of who they are and how to join, but stop in and talk to any of the businesses who are map advertisers and they usually will know the info you are seeking.
It is the hard-cores, the readers of SnowTech, that continue to provide the fuel for the fire in this sport. SnowTech readers are the ones who continue to buy new sleds, regardless of what they see outside their windows at home. We know there is good snow somewhere, and we’re willing to go find it. We truly are a special and unique group, and we need to flex our muscle and show everyone just how special we really are. Don’t be a cheapskate or freeloader. An investment in our clubs and associations is an investment in our own future and the future of this sport.