Executive Director's Desk

http://msasnow.org/images/MSACorporateMemberoftheYear.pdf

 

http://msasnow.org/images/MSAGroomeroftheYear.pdf

 

http://msasnow.org/images/MSASnowmobileCluboftheYear.pdf

 

http://msasnow.org/images/MSASnowmobileroftheYear.pdf

December 2013

Guest Editorial

Snowmobiling as a Charity?

By Kim Raap, Trails Work Consulting

I attended my local snowmobile club meeting last night where the main topic of discussion was what to do with $12,000 the club recently won in a raffle (nice problem to have). Like many clubs, the thought was to donate much or all of it to charity or other needy causes. One of the members suggested the club donate $2000 to a local program for feeding the hungry, $2000 to the local children's home society, and another $2000 to yet another local charity that helps feed and house the homeless. All worthy causes and, after all, it is the Christmas season.

Snowmobile clubs and associations have a long-standing tradition of being caring neighbors who nationally donate over $3 million a year to charities. And on a personal basis individuals give even millions of dollars more. As snowmobilers we support a wide range of causes such as Easter Seals, March of Dimes, breast cancer, heart disease, homelessness, hunger, youth scholarship funds, and a list of other worthy causes that goes on and on. It's what we do. Part of me thinks this is because that's our benevolent culture and what we been raised to do. Another part of me, particularly in respect to clubs and associations, thinks it's rooted in efforts started decades ago, when snowmobiling was young, to “ buy community goodwill" to hopefully show others that snowmobilers were not just a “bunch of hooligans terrorizing local areas”. I suspect the truth is that our generous giving, as clubs and associations, stems from a combination of both.

After some discussion others at our meeting expressed interest in giving a portion back to the states snowmobile association who sponsored the raffle. There is also talk of donating a portion to ACSA (American Council of Snowmobile Association) to help support national work on behalf of snowmobiling. Good discussion that brought out more worthy causes.

During this discussion I related one of my pet peeves. I have worked with snowmobile trails and for snowmobiling access for over 30 years and have never seen or heard of a letter of support for snowmobiling from any of the charity snowmobile clubs and associations routinely give millions of dollars to. You would think that somewhere along the line these groups we generously support would return the favor and comment favorably on behalf of snowmobiling or in support of our efforts to keep snowmobile trails in riding areas open. Not once. Where is that return of goodwill when snowmobilers really need it?

One hand we snowmobilers think nothing of giving to charity after charity; on the other hand we often bitch about the mere thought of financially supporting clubs and associations at higher levels and paying more for dues, registrations or user fees. In my opinion there is a large disconnect; when will snowmobilers quit raising millions of dollars for others before first helping themselves? We need to recognize that snowmobiling itself needs our increased financial support. Whether for building clubs and associations, access funds, legal defense funds, protecting or improving trails, adding paid staff, etc., snowmobiling deserves support as one of our own “charities" of choice.

And as snowmobilers continue down the road of supporting non-snowmobiling charities, our opponents (Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, Winter Wildlands Alliance, etc. etc.) are all generating millions of dollars in their own " charitable" contributions to help them hire full-time employees – staffs that number five, 10, and even 100 times larger than what any state or national snowmobiling organization has – to work full-time against snowmobiling and to advocate for land closures. They have figured out how to turn their cause into a “charity" and are reaping the benefits to help in their fight against snowmobiling; we continue to raise lots of money but send it elsewhere.

The sad fact in all of this is that snowmobilers could and should be doing the same. Imagine what could be accomplished if we would invest even a fraction of what we’re already raising for charity and, instead of giving it all away to organizations that don't help us in our time of need, choose to invest in our own future access. And make no mistake about it; snowmobiling access is definitely “in a time of need” given recent elections and the current politics of this country. We are in for some challenging times ahead and need to be better prepared and act more strategically or our existing access will not survive.

I don't know why we snowmobilers keep giving our money away instead of investing in our own future. Perhaps it's simply out of habit or maybe it's because we believe it “feels good “to be charitable in our communities. Trouble is, I don't think it's going to feel so good when we wake up someday to more" remember when" moments. I don't want to have only memories of places we used to be able to snowmobile – especially if it's because the anti-snowmobile groups finally amassed enough funding, staff and political clout to win while the snowmobile community focused on fundraising for others.

Personally, I made snowmobiling groups my top personal charity several years ago. I know that we need strong local and national snowmobile groups in order for my grandkids to have opportunities to ride the future, so that's where I put my time and money.

As for my club, the Sioux Falls Son- Trackers, it decided to gather more information before deciding the best use of its money. We’ll build a list of where funds can hopefully be used to benefit future snowmobiling access, both close to home as well as regionally and nationally. There are many state programs like South Dakota's Right to Ride fund or the Access Wyoming program which provide important tools for snowmobiling access. The Idaho Snowmobile Association's effort to defend the nationally precedent-setting WWA lawsuit is certainly noteworthy warranting consideration. ACSA's effort with its Enlightenment Ride is also extremely important nationally for continued access. The potential list is long and will continue to build upon it to research on state association websites.

I'm proud of my little club; it's looking at doing a really good thing. Most importantly, it's looking at snowmobiling as a charity, its own charity but not its only charity, for perhaps the first time ever. The amount they eventually donate to various snowmobiling causes does not have to be huge to make a difference; the important thing is that the process starts. If snowmobile clubs everywhere would commit to also taking this first step, we could collectively begin to make a difference. I challenge you and your club to do the same.

Have a safe and blessed New Year.

November 2013

The business of snowmobiling never ends, and your Michigan Snowmobile Association (MSA) officers and executive board work hard to monitor issues all year round. We meet with legislators and lobby for our sport. MSA has forged many partnerships and continues to reinforce our message with these people. Most of our work is done while seated behind a desk or attending meetings, but over the years we’ve found that getting these decision-makers on a snowmobile, out on our trails provides a huge payoff that can’t be measured monetarily.

Continued public access to our public lands means educating those who make the decisions, and MSA feels very strongly that we need to take these decision-makers out on the trails to help them better understand the more than $1 billion impact snowmobiling has on this state.

A Town Hall Meeting on a Snowmobile

In February 2013, your MSA leaders took part in two legislative events to enlighten both politicians and agency directors and staff.

With the help of MSA, U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga held town hall meetings via snowmobile. Huizenga represents the 2nd district of Michigan, which stretches from Kentwood to the lakeshore and up the coast of Lake Michigan from Holland to Ludington.

MSA rented Huizenga a snowmobile, and helped guide him on the snowmobile ride through his district. MSA worked with his staff to set up three distinct venues within his district where he could ride the snowmobile and stop to meet with constituents during these town hall meetings.

He started at a restaurant in the northern part of his district. Many constituents talked to him about every day political issues, but because he was on a snowmobile, snowmobiling was discussed much more than it would have been during a normal town hall meeting.

After that meeting, he rode the snowmobile to another restaurant, where he stopped for lunch and met with 30 more people from that part of his district. He made another stop in the late afternoon, where nearly 30 more people met with him.

Constituents spoke to Huizenga on issues including everything from the economy to the budget and the environment. During all of these discussions, snowmobiling got mentioned because the politician they were meeting with was riding on a snowmobile.

Local, state, and national media covered the event. The town hall meetings held on a snowmobile were also covered by The New York Times. That’s right; snowmobiling got national media coverage that was very positive.

Huizenga’s district is located next to U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek’s district (covering all of the Upper Peninsula and a portion of the Northern Lower Peninsula). This season we are looking at doing a dual ride with the two U.S. Congressmen.

A Ride With the DEQ Director

In February 2013 MSA also took Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant and two of his staff members out on a legislative ride.

They were enthusiastic and excited for the adventure. While we are out on the trail, we stop to talk about snowmobiling. We talked about everything from funding to safety to private and public landowners and economic impacts. They were able to see firsthand the time and effort that goes into snowmobiling and the economic importance of it to our rural communities. They were amazed at the beauty, but they were also amazed at how businesses and communities relay on snowmobiling.

We were able to show the DEQ director and his staff issues we face out on the trails – out on the trails. We discussed the issue of new bridges and trail reconstructions, and explained that in the past our construction permits have been stalled by the DEQ. We were able to open the director’s eyes to many things.

When it comes to our snowmobile trails, rides like this one have helped MSA make major strides into streamlining state processes. We need to get to know the staff that is making decisions, and they need to get to know us. This will strengthen our relationships and our trail system.

For example, this year the DEQ notified the Les Cheneaux Snowmobile Club that the DEQ would be removing a dam in their area. That dam has a snowmobile trail that runs across it, and there were no plans for that snowmobile trail. With the dam removed, that portion of the trail would be closed this season. With no reroute possible, we needed to find a compromise.

Because of our good working relationship with the current DEQ, we were able to meet with everyone involved, in the same room, and at the same meeting. In less than four hours, we had a solution to the problem.

We always include local clubs in these enlightenment and legislative rides. This allows our clubs an opportunity to show the legislators what they are all about. The club can showcase what they’ve done in their particular area.

Some people see MSA’s involvement in these events as a waste of money, but we continue to stand strong that the dividends a day out snowmobiling pays off cannot be measured.

There is still local, state, and national decision-makers who have never been on a snowmobile, and during the coming snowmobile season MSA will continue our legislative and enlightenment rides.

There are many legislators out there who know the importance of snowmobiling. However, opinions from constituents can actually change the course of someone’s political career. With that said, sometimes the constituent they hear from the most, will be remembered. What better way to be remembered than out on one of Michigan’s incredible snowmobile trails?

We will continue to talk to our legislator’s one-on-one, out on the trails.

October 2013

Legislation Update:

MSA Proposes Change to the Snowmobile Law

MSA is proposing several additions and changes to the Michigan Snowmobile Law. We are also working with our legislators on legislation that would see the new Snowmobile Advisory Workgroup (SAW) established into the Snowmobile Law.

Currently, the Governor’s Order that created the Michigan Snowmobile and Trails Advisory Council is due to sunset next year. The Snowmobile Advisory Workgroup (SAW) is a subcommittee of this group and will cease to exist unless it is established into the Snowmobile Law.

Defining a Snowmobile

First, we are asking for an addition to the definitions section of the Snowmobile Law.

The proposed new section would read:

"Snowmobile" means any motor-driven vehicle designed for travel primarily on snow or ice of a type that utilizes sled-type runners or skis, does not exceed 48" width at the ski spindles, an endless belt tread, or any combination of these or other similar means of contact with the surface upon which it is operated, but is not a vehicle that must be registered under the Michigan vehicle code, 1949 PA 300, MCL 257.1 to 257.923.

Our reasoning is simple. Many different types of off road units are now being built that have been outfitted with skis and tracks that exceed 4 feet in width. The snowmobile trails in Michigan are groomed at a minimum of eight feet. We have many private property owners who will not let our clubs groom any more than the 8 feet in width. So a five-foot six-inch wide side-by- side with skis on the front and tracks on the back is hazardous to snowmobiling’s health and well being. Add the bold language!

Keeping Wheeled Vehicles Off Our Trails

MSA would like to see something in the Snowmobile Law to keep unwanted wheeled vehicles off the marked groomed snowmobile trails. The snowmobile program spends millions each year of the snowmobile fees to keep the snowmobile trails smooth and safe for snowmobile use in the winter. Many of these trails are on forest roads, seasonal roads, and private property trails. With the advent of ATVs, UTVs, (side-by-side vehicles) jeeps, mudders, fat tire bicycles, you name it and they are on the trails. Some do extensive damage to the groomed surface endangering snowmobilers with sudden rutted trails. Another surprise to us also endangering our wellbeing is the new fad, fat tire cycling. (The instinctive part of driving will have us avoid the truck, ATV, bicycle, and go off the trail)

The proposed new section would read:

State sponsored groomed snowmobile trails are for snowmobile use only between Dec. 1 and April 1. All other vehicles are banned except emergency vehicles and designated maintenance vehicles. Violators would be subject to yet to be determined fines.

MSA is also seeking some changes to the Snowmobile Law regarding snowmobile rental operations, their duties and required liability insurance.

Finally, within the Snowmobile Law, MSA is proposing that all fines throughout the Snowmobile Law be looked at and increased where needed.

Seeking SAW Established by Law

MSA is also proposing legislation that would see the new Snowmobile Advisory Workgroup (SAW) established into the Snowmobile Law. The old Snowmobile Advisory Committee (SAC) was abolished by Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The new SAW committee was established as a sub group under the Michigan Snowmobile and Trails Advisory Council (MSTAC). Although the SAW has a great relationship now with the DNR, the MSTAC group will sunset and be disbanded in January 2014, thus eliminating all the sub groups.

Proposed legislation would read:

The Michigan Snowmobile Workgroup (SAW) is created in the department. The committee shall consist of seven individuals appointed by the director for two-year terms. The members of the existing SAW serving on June 1, 2013, shall serve on the committee until the expiration of their terms on the SAW. The director shall appoint one member of the committee as chairperson and that member shall serve as chairperson at the pleasure of the director. The membership of the committee shall consist of the following:

(a) Three persons representing the Michigan snowmobile association, one from each of the department's three regions.

(b) Two person representing trail sponsors; one from region 1 and one from region 2.

(c) Two persons representing at-large trail users.

(2) The workgroup shall meet four times each year and at the call of the committee chairperson as needed.

(3) The Michigan Snowmobile Workgroup shall advise the department regarding all of the following:

(a) The development of criteria for safety education and training programs.

(b) The allocation of funds from the recreational snowmobile trail improvement subaccount.

(c) The promulgation of rules affecting snowmobile use in this state.

(d) The development of annual updates to the comprehensive plan for implementing a statewide recreational and snowmobile trails system.

(e) Implementation of the recommendations made by snowmobile users regarding trails that should be designated for snowmobile use.

(f) The development of a comprehensive plan for the use of snowmobiles in this state.

(4) As used in this section, "workgroup" means the Michigan Snowmobile Workgroup.

None of these legislative requests have been introduced in the state House or Senate. MSA is working with the leadership of the legislature and expect them to be introduced sometime during the next month.

September 2013

Late Season Start Led to Fairly Good Snow Year: A Look at Last Season’s Grooming Statistics

Even though we did have a fairly good snow year during our 2012-13 season, we didn’t start grooming in Michigan until late December. Yes, the season started very slow. It was another very “weird” snow season in Michigan. We didn’t groom very much in December, but some were still riding well into May. Trails in Michigan were groomed from Jan. 11 through April, but snow in the U.P. had riders still enjoying themselves into May.

Since the 2011-12 season was virtually nonexistent, we did sell more trail permits this season, and that’s good news. During the 2012-13 snowmobile season, 83,503 trail permits were sold through the state’s point-of-sale machines. There were 1,174 trail permits sold through the mail, there were 51,356 pre printed trail permits distributed and sold through MSA, for a total of 136,033 trail permits sold during the 2012-13 season. We only sold 124,287 trail permits during the 2011-12 season.

Yes, more trail permits were sold and that is good news, but we are still not back to the number of permits sold back in 2007-08 season - when 200,000 trail permits were sold.

Well, we need to keep in mind that when MSA worked to get permit increases in place back in 2006, those increases were based on those higher trail permit numbers, and so was the budget for buying equipment, signing, brushing trails, grooming, and maintaining the fleet of groomers!

The cost of sleds has increased since that time. Gas has skyrocketed to more than $4 a gallon, and people in Michigan have lost their jobs. Some of those people quit riding, while many moved away. The combination of all of these factors has made it a tough five years for the snowmobile program and trail permit sales. Know that MSA, the grant sponsors, and volunteers are all working hard to continue and provide great trails in this state. It hasn’t been easy, but we will continue to work hard on your behalf.

We do spend nearly a quarter of a million dollars each year on grooming equipment, and diesel fuel used in that equipment also hovers at more than $4 a gallon. We have had to make sure that the grant sponsors aren’t grooming the trails when it isn’t necessary. This puts more pressure on local Department of Natural Resources (DNR) field contacts to check the trails. Our grant sponsors continue to maintain a close relationship with those field contacts. They work hard to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Equipment Purchases

Because there wasn’t a lot of money left over in the snowmobile program, only seven pieces of equipment will be purchases this year. The following items are being purchased for the following areas:

North Country Snowmobile Club- groomer and drag

Baraga County Convention &Visitors Bureau - groomer and drag

Gogebic Range Trail Authority - groomer and drag

Gogebic Area Grooming Inc. - groomer and drag

Moose Country Snowmobile Club -groomer only

Gaylord Area Snowmobile Trails - council drag only

Kalkaska County Snowmobile Club - groomer and drag

West Michigan Snowmobile - groomer and drag

Working together

Let me also add that the Michigan Snowmobile Trail Improvement program is now fully administered under the state of Michigan’s Parks and Recreation Division. We feel more comfortable there because we are working with people who deal with trails in our state. We are building strong relationships, and feel a strong spirit of cooperation.

However, trails are located on property managed by the Michigan Forest Service Division. We do still have to deal with two different government hierarchies and that can sometimes be time consuming.

All in all, the snowmobile program is running and working well. The Snowmobile Advisor Work (SAW) group is now working with more realistic projected numbers for budget planning. The parks and recreation division is fantastic to work with.

MSA continues to monitor and make sure your trail permit dollars are not wasted, but keep in mind (as with any governmental program) part of our budget goes to state administrative costs within the state government. We promise to monitor and keep a close watch on your trail permit dollars!

January/February 2013

First Permanent Trail Easement Secured by Snow Country Trails Conservancy

On Feb. 14, permanent snowmobile trails in Michigan will become a reality.

With the purchase of 200 acres of property and the establishment of the state’s first permanent trail easement through the Snow Country Trails Conservancy (SCTC), snowmobilers in Michigan will be able to travel Trail 8 between Three Lakes and Michigamme.

If final work at the state level is not completed by Feb. 14, the sale will not take place and the trail will be closed immediately. However, MSA officials are confident that the final hurdle will be crossed by that date.

Currently, the  law allows $8 of every snowmobile registration to be put into a Permanent Easement fund for the purchase of easements or property. The grant application is being reviewed by the Michigan Attorney General’s office. Once that has taken place the purchase can precede and a permanent easement for trail 8 established. The appraisal and survey was done in late-January and a grant request has been made to the state. Everything that has to be done has been done. Hopefully by the time you read this the property will be in the hands of the SCTC.

We don’t want 200 acres. Part of the survey process involves surveying out the trail so the property can be put back up for sale with the permanent easement for the trail attached to the deed. The 200 acres is surrounded on both sides by state land.

A Long Road to Permanent Trails

It’s been ten years since the idea of permanent trails was established through the Snow Country Trails Conservancy (SCTC) and four years since a funding mechanism was put in place through state legislation.

Last year, Gov. Rick Snider moved the snowmobile program from the Forest Management  Division to the Parks and Recreation Division. Officials with the Parks and Recreational Division have made it clear that they were going to work for and with the snowmobile program. Parks and recreational officials have seemed genuinely concerned about the future of the snowmobile program and permanent trails.

The goal of the SCTC is simple: to enhance snowmobiling by creating a permanent trail system in our state. The board of the SCTC consists of MSA past officers and concerned snowmobilers.

State legislation that put the funding mechanism for permanent trails was approved in 2009. Since that time, $8 of every snowmobile registration has been put into a constitutionally protected fund for permanent trails. There is approximately $1.7 million in that fund.

The Specific Timeline

In early October 2012, a 500 acre parcel in the Upper Peninsula sold to Illinois man. The Moose Country Club and Baraga County CVB asked for permission for trail 8 to cross the property (All grooming entities must have a land control document to groom a trail across private property). The landowner declined the request due to liability issues. The DNR then contacted the landowner and explained the snowmobile program. The landowner again declined, but entertained a request to purchase a section of the property where the trail runs through.

Talks between the landowner and the DNR about purchasing the land stalled due to the time it takes for the state to purchase land.

On Dec. 6 the trail closure issue was discussed at the Snowmobile Advisory Workgroup (SAW). Later that day, MSA representatives talked to officers of the SCTC about the possible purchase of the property to secure a permanent easement.

On Dec.7 MSA and SCTC officers meet with the landowner’s attorney in Ishpeming. The owner gave us a good deal, and a tentative agreement to purchase 200 acres of the property was struck with the landowner.

On Dec. 12 the SCTC signed a sales agreement with 60 days to be completed. Documents were signed that gave immediate use of the trail, and allowed the clubs to begin grooming.

A Brief History

The idea and eventual formation of the Snow Country Trails Conservancy dates back in 2002. At that time large paper companies in Michigan began selling properties they owned in the Upper Peninsula. Unfortunately for snowmobilers, many of these properties contained parts of the Michigan Snowmobile Trail System. It became clear at that time that if these pieces of property were sold off, and the purchasers weren’t friends of snowmobiling, portions of trails in the West End of the U.P. would be lost

That’s when a committee began meeting with the National Forest Service and the Department of Natural Resources to discuss this immediate problem and what could happen to all of our trails located on private property. During those meetings, it became very clear that “permanency” had to be put to Michigan snowmobile trails.

Need to Establish Permanent Trails

Discussions led to two options in establishing those permanent trails. The first option was to secure a permanent easement that would allow our trails to be made part of the “record of deed.” This means that if the property is sold, it is sold with the easement for our trail. The second option was to physically buy tracks of property, extract out the part of property containing our trails and re-sell the remainder of property.

The original 2002 issue was solved through by the purchase of the property by the National Forest Service. However, it became clear to the committee that this issue wasn’t going to go away and something had to be created to save Michigan’s snowmobile trails.

The committee knew that the action that led to their formation wasn’t an isolated one. They had to come up with a plan to establish permanent trails or look at losing our trails when property they are located on is sold.

Time to Take Action

The committee began formulating that plan. First, an exact trail system was established, the exact trail system they would like to see become permanent. They began looking at two routes traveling east and west across the U.P. and five north-and-south connectors. Michigan would be the first state in the nation to establish a permanent trail system. The biggest hurdle, of course, is money.

To accomplish this goal a plan was developed to create a nonprofit cooperation called the Snow Country Trails Conservancy. This conservancy would be used to gain grants and take donations to purchase the permanent easements. It would also be used as a vehicle to actually purchase easements or property. This conservancy applied for and received their 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.

The estimated cost to complete the 3,000 miles of permanent trails in the U.P. is $10 million. After funding is received or guaranteed for the trails in the U.P., a similar program will be implemented in the Lower Peninsula. The Conservancy’s long-range plan is to establish permanent trails throughout the entire state.

 

 

December 2012

A Further Look at Where the Money Goes

In recent issues of this magazine we have discussed “where your trail permit money goes” in terms of grooming costs and equipment replacement.

Another important part of the Snowmobile Trail Improvement Fund budget is the special maintenance fund. A list of this year’s $1 million in projects and their specific costs are included later in this article. MSA wants you, the snowmobiler, to know how important your $45 trail permit is to snowmobiling and exactly where your trail permit money goes.

Special Maintenance Projects

These special maintenance projects include costs over and above normal signing and grooming of the trails. They include work that goes on “behind the scenes.” Projects include grading, bridge replacement, and stump removal. Also, take note that funds are put toward beaver washout damage done during the off season, groomer track replacement and trail damage done by other motorized users.

Bridge replacements include engineering costs and groomer track replaced can cost up to $70,000. Tracks have to be replaced every three to five years.

Partnering With User Groups

Regardless of when (what season) the damage or who (the user) did the damage, snowmobilers will use the bridge, and these projects have to be complete so that we can access our trails.

MSA would also like to stress that whenever possible we partner with other user groups on these special maintenance projects. The total costs listed here are funds from the Snowmobile Trail Improvement Project fund, but some of the projects may also include forest service money and recreational trail program money beyond the snowmobile improvement funds.

Grants for these special fund projects were just released. Some of the projects will be completed before this winter, while the majority of these projects will be done after this season.

There isn’t a specific formula for where the special maintenance funds are spent. Each year, all of our grant sponsors submit a list of projects. Those projects are graded on scale of what is needed the most and what is needed the least for our trails.

As our trails get older and see use year around, larger trail maintenance projects are necessary. For the past three years, special maintenance fund projects have averaged from $800,000 to $1.2 a year.

November 2012

2012 Legislative Review

The following is a brief synopsis of bills currently in our Michigan Legislature. Please note; your Michigan Snowmobile Association (MSA) has not asked for any changes in the existing snowmobile laws during the 2012 calendar year. However, that does not mean that there was not legislation introduced this year that would affect our snowmobile laws.

There are currently bills in both the Michigan House and Senate that would affect snowmobile trails, snowmobiling as we know today, or the laws of snowmobiling.

We are not only watching this legislation, our lobbyist in Lansing is keeping a watchful eye on all aspects of these pieces of legislation. He is watching for any deals that might be made to pass any of these or other bills.

The only reason we are effective in passing our legislation is because we continue to make our voices heard.  We can generate a large amount of constituents calls in short amount of time, and those representing us in Lansing know that. We are keeping watch for you on every piece of legislation that may or could affect snowmobiling.

Watching legislation and protecting users rights are what users groups like MSA are all about. Rest assured, if we didn’t have someone watching, our voice would not be heard and decisions would be left up to others; possibly anit-snowmobile groups or uniformed legislators who don’t see the consequences of their decisions.

Actual Legislation

Listed below are the bills that were introduced during the year. We have presented you with a status of each bill. Remember because it is an election year, MSA and its advocate will remain vigilant during the next session. That lame duck session will convene at the end of November for three weeks.

During that time strange things happen, as outgoing legislators try to push their favorite causes. Most of the legislation listed below will not make it through to become law.

HOUSE BILL 4138 Sales tax; collections; sales tax on difference between trade-in and purchase price of new or used car, titled watercraft, or heavy moving equipment; provide for. Amends sec. 1 of 1933 PA 167 (MCL 205.51).

This bill would only tax the purchase of a snowmobile on the difference between the new cost, less any trade in. MSA supports this bill. The bill is currently in committee, no hearing has been scheduled.

HOUSE BILL 4239 Sales tax; collections; sales tax on difference between trade-in and purchase price of new or used car or boat; provide for. Amends sec. 1 of 1933 PA 167 (MCL 205.51).

This bill is the same as HB 4138 as far as snowmobiles. It just does not include as many different pieces of equipment.

HOUSE BILL 4299 Recreation; outdoor activities; cross country ski trails and ski passes; provide for. Amends sec. 72101 of 1994 PA 451 (MCL 324.72101) & adds secs. 72121, 72122, 72123, 72124 & 72125.

This bill would create a cross country ski pass and mandate a cross country network of trails be installed in Michigan.

HOUSE BILL 4794 Vehicles; snowmobiles; operation of a snowmobile by certain individuals under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance; prohibit. Amends secs. 82101, 82127, 82128, 82129, 82136, 82139, 82140, 82142, 82143, 82144, 82146 & 82148 of 1994 PA 451 (MCL 324.82101 et seq.).

HOUSE BILL 4073 Criminal procedure; sentencing guidelines; sentencing guidelines for operating vessel while impaired by or under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance; enact. Amends sec. 13g, ch. XVII of 1927 PA 175 (MCL 777.13g). TIE BAR WITH: HB 4072'11

Both of these bills would take the blood alcohol limit currently at .10 for snowmobilers and match it to the Motor Vehicle Code of .08. These bills were reported out of committee on Jan. 19. They have had second readings, but have not been passed out of the House. MSA promotes a Zero Tolerance stand when it comes to drinking and riding.

HOUSE BILL 4795 Criminal procedure; sentencing guidelines; sentencing guidelines for operating snowmobile under influence of alcoholic liquor; revise to include operating with any amount of schedule 1 controlled substances in operator's body. Amends sec. 13g, ch. XVII of 1927 PA 175 (MCL 777.13g). TIE BAR WITH: HB 4794'11

This bill would add the wording for Controlled Substances to the drunken driving section of the law. This bill also had a hearing on Jan 19. Minor changes were made; both were reported out of committee and will go to the House floor for a vote and second reading. They will need a third to pass the House. Boaters, and ORV groups testified against the bills. MSA has stayed neutral. The bills will most likely be stalled in the Senate.

HOUSE BILL 5175 Recreation; trails; pack and saddle trailways; provide for expansion and a rating system. Amends secs. 72114 & 72115 of 1994 PA 451 (MCL 324.72114 & 324.72115).

This bill will expand the Equine system and basically let riders go anywhere. There has been no movement on this bill. No hearing has been scheduled at this time.

HOUSE BILL 4684 Recreation; trails; use of certain trails by pack and saddle animals; provide for. Amends secs. 504, 72101, 72102, 72110a, 72114 & 72115 of 1994 PA 451 (MCL 324.504 et seq.).

This bill will allow the Equine riders back into the Pigeon River. A Hearing in the House took place on March 22. Substitutes were offered and passed out to the house floor. The substitute would insure that the state will not lose the federal funding from Pittman/Robertson funds in the Pigeon. It has been referred out of committee and has had a second reading. It is sitting on house floor waiting for a third reading.

SENATE BILL 1238 Natural resources; funding; procedures of proposed land acquisitions and developments; modify. Amends secs. 1902, 1905, 1907 & 1907a of 1994 PA 451 (MCL 324.1902 et seq.).

-- Require the Department of Natural Resources annual report to the Legislature on the Natural Resources Trust Fund to include information about approved projects.

-- Increases the number of Michigan residents appointed to the Trust Fund Board from four to six.

-- Requires the Board, in developing its annual list of proposals to receive a Trust Fund appropriation, to include the cost of each parcel proposed for acquisition, score each parcel, and give particular consideration to certain projects or acquisitions.

-- Prohibit the Board from recommending the acquisition of land for transfer to a land conservancy unless the land would remain open for all recreational uses; and otherwise restrict the Board's recommendations.

-- Require the Board to report annually to the Legislature on any unspent funds appropriated from the Trust Fund.

-- Require the recipient of a Trust Fund appropriation to submit to the Legislature any change to the project or increase in cost.

This bill has had one Senate hearing. One Senate hearing has been held on this bill. It would give consideration to motorized projects. It is likely to pass the Senate yet this year.

October 2012

Funding:Where Are We and What’s Left?

I can’t tell you how many times over the summer months when the conversation has turn to trails, grooming and last season that people have said, “We didn’t have much snow, so  nobody was grooming. There should be a ton of money left in the snowmobile trail improvement program for this season’s trails.”

While there wasn’t a lot of riding going on last season because of the weather, trail permit sales were also down. No one was riding, and no one was buying trail permits.

During the 2011-12 season, 124,287 trail permits were sold. During a fairly good winter in Michigan, there is usually 175,000 trail permits sold.

The snowmobile program was down 50,713 permits. Of each $45 permit sold, $43.53 goes out to the trail. That means $2,207,536 was not available to go out on the trails.

Now you are probably still saying that we didn’t ride and didn’t groom, so we should not have spent that much snowmobile program money.

The answer is yes and no. A lot of things still had to be done in anticipation of the season. There was less grooming done last season, except for the west end of the Upper Peninsula. However, keep in mind, all snowmobile trails still had to be brushed and signed in preparation of the season. The 69 grant sponsors are reimbursed around $100 a mile for signing and brushing.

Also, there were trails that had to be graded because ATVs and 4-wheelers ripped them up during the summer. Trails have to be signed, brushed and if needed graded no matter what type of winter we have.

All 69 grant sponsors still had to pay for commercial liability insurance policies. Coverage must consist of $1million for each occurrence and $2 million aggregate

If trails are located on private property, grant sponsors still had to secure leases, and in some cases landowners were paid a stipend for the lease. This is paid even when we don’t have a good winter, and even if there isn’t a lot of grooming going on.

Special maintenance projects are also paid for through the snowmobile program. Those projects consist of culverts, bridge repairs, trail reroutes, and any restoration damaged cause from previous year. There are also unexpected major equipment repair costs that are cost- shared between the grant sponsor and the snowmobile program

In June, we also look to see what program money is left and determine how many pieces of equipment (groomers and drags) can be purchased.

Tractors run from $150,000 to $225,000 each. Drags cost around $25,000. We usually know how much is left by now and usually purchase from 12-15 pieces of equipment. We will only purchase five pieces of equipment this year.

A Quick look at the Budget

Of the $12 million 2011-12 snowmobile program budget, $10 million was budgeted for the ground and $2 million was slated for sheriffs and law enforcement.

Preliminary numbers show that trail permit and registrations brought in $5.5 in revenue and gas tax monies brought in another $2 million in revenue. As you can see revenue was down!

By now, you are probably asking what the exact numbers are. Well, we don’t have exact numbers yet. Our program representative at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in Lansing has been off on a medical leave, so numbers are late in being released. When MSA gets those numbers we will share them with you, the user.

We do know that a lot of preparation goes into this budget and snowmobile trail permits will remain at $45 through 2016.

The State’s Budget Process

Another cold hard fact is that snowmobile registration numbers have dwindled in Michigan. The state budgets five years in advance and budgets are based on registration estimates from 2007.

Since 2009 Michigan has lost more than one million jobs. A percentage of those people who held those jobs recreated on snowmobiles, boats and ATVs. Those people left the state because of their job loss, and no longer continue to recreate in Michigan. Consequently, the snowmobile program has had less money coming in from registrations. Snowmobile registrations dropped by 30,000 in 2009. Because of the lack of snow last season, registrations dropped another 30,000.

Again the state, budgets five years in advance. Snowmobile program numbers are based on pre-2007 registrations. Of course none of us could foresee 2009. We don’t think we will get that full 30,000 lost in 2009 back.

What We Know

Here we are in 2012 with budgeted amounts that were put together in 2007. We know revenue within this budget is not going to be met.

To further muddy the waters, the budget department at the state level continues to hold back money from the snowmobile program because our projected revenue numbers haven’t been met. Another policy we have to live with.

As I’ve explained, last season we didn’t meet those budget expectations and the state is holding back $1.5 million out of the 2012 budget. This money will be moved forward into the 2013 budget.

Let me be clear. We didn’t lose this money. We just don’t have the authority to use it.

During the last three years, the money the state requires to be carried over in the program (held back) has gone up because the program has not met revenue expectations projected five years ago. In fact, in the past three years $3 million of the program has been carried over. Of course, it is MSA’s opinion that if there is money left, we should be allowed to spend it out on the trail. That is not the case.

In conclusion, revenues within the snowmobile program have gone down, while the money the state moves forward as a carryover continues to increase. We may not have had a great winter, and less grooming took place, but we don’t have “tons of money left over.”

The state’s budget year runs from October 1 through September 30, so the 2013 budget year is already set. MSA is still trying to figure out where we are at, but we do know we are not going to meet revenue expectations setup in 2008

Of course if we have a great winter our numbers will spike, but we are still caught in a Catch 22. We don’t have authority of the snowmobile program budget. We don’t have the ability to spend that money, even in a lean year. A lot of prepare tion goes in to getting ready, and we are doing our due diligence.

Speaking of Revenue

Please remember to buy your trail permits from MSA directly. For every trail permit MSA sells $1.43 goes directly to MSA. One dollar goes to MSA as the trail permit seller, and $.43 goes to MSA as the MSA distributer.

Hikers and bikers don’t have to pay for their trails. There are grants out there to help fund them. Snowmobilers pay for 100 percent of their trail system through purchase of the state trail permit.

When MSA sells 30,000 trail permits through the office or our Web site, those funds allow staff and the officers to attend important meetings and monitor the issues. Meetings that affect our trails and access go on weekly in the state. If we are not there, we are forgotten about. We have to be represented at these meetings and protect our right to ride.

Remember to purchase your state trail permit directly from MSA, via the office or the Web site (www.msasnow.org).

What Does MSA Do for Snowmobiling?

MSA is a non-profit, volunteer organization dedicated to the success of snowmobiling in Michigan. MSA facilitates the over $10 million dollar snowmobile program, that is funded 100 percent by you – the snowmobiler.

MSA also Works at:

Protecting and Preserving Your Privilege to Ride

Representing Your Rights

Promoting Your Rights

Keeping You Informed

Promoting Safe and Responsible Use

Maintaining and Enhancing Trails

Sponsoring Fun-Filled Family Activities

September 2012

Michigan Snowmobile Association -- Protecting and Preserving Your Privilege to Ride

Protecting and Preserving Your Privilege to Ride is something you’ll hear every MSA director and officer stress when discussing the importance of MSA to snowmobiling in the state of Michigan.

What does that mean to you, the snowmobiler? It means exactly what it says. We, collectively -- MSA directors, officers, and staff -- are working hard to make sure there are snowmobile trails to ride on when the state gets snow. Michigan offers the finest snowmobile trail system in the country, and MSA is directly involved in maintaining, preserving and enhancing that trail system.

Since the inception of MSA, 2,500 miles of quality trail have been added to our state trail system that now boasts of over 6,500 miles of marked and groomed trails and over 30,000 more miles of undeveloped trails in state and federal forests where snowmobiling is permitted.

Without MSA, Michigan would not have the smooth, groomed trail system that all snowmobilers have come to expect.

Fighting Apathy!

Right now you’re probably saying to yourself, trails in Michigan are in great shape. Our trails are smooth, wide, brushed and signed. For the most part, our trails are perfect for you to go out and enjoy your sport.

Apathy has set in, and MSA membership is declining. It’s often said that success breeds apathy, and if people don’t have anything to complain about they don’t get involved and lack any real concern. Is MSA doing a good job? Yes, we are, and our membership numbers are going down.

Without a strong MSA membership, our trail system will change. Where else does a simple $20 (cost of membership) get you access to such beautiful winter scenery?

Yes, you’re reading this, so you’re a MSA member. It may seem like we are preaching to the choir. Consider this: how many friends, neighbors and relatives don’t get this magazine because they’re not members of MSA? How many of those same people are out riding the same trails and enjoying the same wonderful experience, but aren’t MSA members.

Take Your Membership Further

You’re a member of MSA, so we know you support MSA, but we need you to take that support a few steps further.

First, we need you to get those friends, neighbors and relatives to join MSA. We need to keep MSA strong, and we can’t do that if our membership numbers continue to decline.

At one time the MSA had almost 25,000 members. It was then that the recession hit, and apathy started to set in. That lack of interest and concern continues, and our membership numbers have continued to decline. For more than 10 years, MSA has felt that decline. We have to get our membership numbers up!

Buy Your Trail Permit From MSA

Beyond MSA membership, please also remember to buy your trail permits from MSA directly.

For every trail permit MSA sells $1.43 goes directly to MSA. One dollar goes to MSA as the trail permit seller, and $.43 goes to MSA as the MSA distributer.

Hikers and bikers don’t have to pay for their trails. There are grants out there to help fund them. Snowmobilers pay for 100 percent of their trail system through purchase of the state trail permit.

When MSA sells 30,000 trail permits through the office or our Web site, those funds allow staff and the officers to attend important meetings and monitor the issues. Meetings that affect our trails and access go on weekly in the state. If we are not there, we are forgotten about. We have to be represented at this meeting and protect our right to ride.

Be Our Representitive

It’s time to speak out. Let others know that we need their membership, now more than ever.

Let people know that by joining MSA, they have greater legislative power. MSA is your voice in Lansing and Washington D.C. – monitoring regulations and proposed legislation that will affect snowmobiling. Again, stress to them that without MSA’s involvement, continued monitoring and influence, they wouldn’t have a trail system!

To further their voice in Lansing, MSA has a full-time legislative consultant and a full-time office staff, all working on snowmobile-related issues – locally, statewide and in Washington, D.C.

Explain to non-members that MSA continues to promote a positive image, proving that snowmobilers are dedicated to charity work and are strong environmentalists. Annually, MSA volunteers raise over $600,000 for charity, foster partnerships with other land user groups and participate in environmental cleanups and tree plantings.

MSA is also dedicated to the youth by helping facilitate safety classes, promoting Zero Tolerance and awarding annual college scholarships.

It isn’t all work! MSA sponsors opportunities for snowmobilers to meet others who share a love for riding. Through MSA’s annual Ride In, Convention, Camp Out and Trail Stops; members meet new people and make friendships that last a lifetime.

Membership Is Our Future

Please support your MSA by recruiting your friends, neighbors and family. Let them know how important their membership is to the future of snowmobiling. Our recreation is under constant attack. It is only through unity and the proven strength that an organization like MSA has that snowmobiling will continue and grow. We must protect and preserve our chosen recreation.

Also, remember by purchasing your state trail permit directly from MSA, via the office or the Web site (www.msasnow.org) $1.43 of that permit goes directly to MSA!

What Does MSA Do for Snowmobiling?

MSA is a non-profit, volunteer organization dedicated to the success of snowmobiling in Michigan. MSA facilitates the over $10 million dollar snowmobile program, that is funded 100 percent by you – the snowmobiler.

 

Protecting and Preserving Your Privilege to Ride

Representing Your Rights

Promoting Your Rights

Keeping You Informed

Promoting Safe and Responsible Use

Maintaining and Enhancing Trails

Sponsoring Fun-Filled Family Activities

 

 

March 2012

Working to Educate Our Legislators and Making Our Trails Safer

On Feb. 10-12, 2012, MSA officers had the opportunity to take four state senators one representative, the director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and the Michigan Director of the Department of Agriculture out on a weekend snowmobile ride.

These Legislative Rides have become an important educational tool for MSA. By taking legislators out on the snowmobile trails of Michigan, MSA is able to not only show they the incredible beauty of this state in winter, but reinforce the important economic impact snowmobiling has on this state – a nearly $1 billion impact.

Because of low snow conditions the ride itinerary had to be changed and the list of participants decreased, but those who attended received an education on the importance of snowmobiling on this state. They were shown the economic impact of snowmobiling while riding the snowmobile trails of Michigan.

The ride started in Newberry on Feb. 10. Riders were trailered to Seney where they rode more than 100 miles of trails north of Seney.

On Saturday, the group trailered to the staging area north of Manistique. They then rode to the Jack Pine Lodge and kicked off the Relic Run. Finally, they traveled to Grand Marais where they spent the night and returned to Newberry on Sunday.

Snowmobiling with the DEQ Director

The most important thing that happened on this year’s Legislative Ride was the attendance of the new DEQ Director, Dan Wyant. MSA had some personal face time with him, both on and off the snowmobile trail. We were able to talk with him on the issues that effect snowmobilers and grant sponsors.

We discussed issues including the process of trying to get a DEQ permit for bridges, culverts and new trails.

We explained that permits for bridges spanning small streams and creeks can take one to three years to secure. Wyant agreed that time frame is too long.

We were actually able to show him examples of trails that would be called swamp areas in summer, but are a hard and frozen trail in the winter. We showed him that snowmobilers are not hurting anything when swamp areas are frozen.

The director is the former agriculture department director, and told us he understands the plight of clubs and farmers. He knows the rules we are forced to follow.

His new motto is, “Hi, I’m with the DEQ, and how may we help you? He assured us that he intends to change the department’s philosophy from one of “No, you can’t!” to a “How can we help?”

Helping Us on the Legislative Level

MSA does receive a lot of questions regarding why we take our legislators out on these kinds of trips. These trips are incredibly important to the future of our sport in Michigan. We need to do this to show them the importance of snowmobiling; the economic impact of snowmobiling on the entire state.

Often our legislators are sitting in southern Michigan or Lansing, and they don’t see the importance to the economy. Snowmobiling is not just important to the northern Lower or Upper Peninsulas, but the entire state.

These rides also go a long way in helping us on the legislative level. When our legislators get to know us, our sport and the important economic impact it has; they are willing to listen when we need legislation approved or when we express our opposition to something.

With Great Appreciation

MSA would also like to thank the local clubs for their hospitality. Members of the Tahquamenon Area Snowmobile Association held a welcome reception for riders on Thursday.

On Friday, the Schoolcraft County Snowmobile Club and the Manistique Chamber of Commerce presented a program regarding the area.

Also, on Friday, MSA Past President, Don Reed (from the Seney Snowmobile Association) served as guide through his area. While in Grand Maris, we were treated to hospitality by the Grand Marais Snowmobile Association

Everyone on the ride had snowmobiled before, but were not currently snowmobilers. Most of those attending were from the west side of the Lower Peninsula.

Sign Manual Update – There Will Be Changes on Our Trails

By the time you’re reading this, I fully believe a new edition of the “Michigan Motorized Trail Signing Handbook” will have been approved. The last revision of this manual was done in the mid-1990s.

Revisions have not been approved formally, but will have the blessing of MSA, the Snowmobile Advisory Workgroup (SAW) committee, insurance regulators and hopefully the director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

For the last two years members of MSA and SAW have been working with the DNR to eliminate some signs on our snowmobile trails, while brining some uniformity to ATV and snowmobile signs.

Over Signing Our Trails

Many studies within the snowmobile industry throughout the U.S. and Canada have shown that we are over signing the trails. Snowmobilers are following the signs, and not paying attention to the actual curves in the trails. In an effort to slow traffic down some types of signs are going to be removed from our trails

Most signs denoting curves and chevrons will be removed from Michigan trails.

Issues are arising when a sign falls down. Lawsuits are being filed because other curves were signed. MSA believes removing these signs will NOT cause more accidents, but slow riders down.

Confidence markers will stay as well as “Stop Ahead” and informational signs. However, signs like, “Winding Trail, “Two-way Trail,” “Narrow Trail,” “Trail Crossing,” “Drift Area” and “Truck Traffic” will be eliminated.

This update of will also combine ATV and snowmobiling signs when and where they can be, and bring them all to a uniform size.

Currently, a snowmobile “Stop” sign is18x18 inches, while an ATV “Stop” sign is 24x24 inches. This revision will bring uniformity to the sizing of signs for motorized vehicles on the trails.

When approved, the new sign handbook will go into effect for the 2012-13 season. We will publish changes in the fall editions of the Michigan Snowmobile News, in other snowmobile magazines and on our Web site, www.msasnow.org. We will make every effort to educate snowmobilers regarding the changes.

In the end, it means it is time to start looking ahead at the actual design of the snowmobile trail and not relying on signs. It’s time to slow down and enjoy the view!

 

January/February 2012

Where Your Money Is Spent

Many of you are wondering why the increase in the trail permit was needed. Well, quite frankly, it’s a matter of keeping our trails smooth, while costs to keep them smooth continue to increase.

Here are some numbers for you to think about when you purchase your $45 trail permit this year. The average cost of groomer tractor is between $150,000 and $125,000. Groomers needed for high snow areas run as much as $250,000, and that’s just for the tractors. Drags run from $17,000 to $30,000. These costs have continued to increase over the last few years, so we aren’t able to purchase all of the new equipment necessary. This means that maintenance costs on older equipment is also increasing. We are continuing to play catch up in terms of equipment purchases, and the cost of that equipment continues to increase.

Another simple fact is that the cost of steel for that equipment is at an all time high, while fuel prices continue to rise. Insurance costs have also increased, while we continue to try and do more with what we have.

Also, trail permit sales were down 7 percent last year, which means we had less money to deal with from the start. We sold 170,000 trail permits last year, and $33.53 of every permit went on the ground. I think that is a credit to the program and the people involved in it.

It’s important that we stress that the majority of this state’s 68 grant sponsors are volunteer club members who spend countless hours maintaining trails, chasing leases and completing paperwork. If we had to pay 100 percent of the labor costs involved, we would not have a snowmobile program. You would not have smooth trails.

The Cold Hard Truth

We now reimburse our grant sponsors $5.27 per mile. If you take that $45 trail permit fee and divide it by that $5.27 per mile, I think you will see it’s not such a bad deal. I mean you can load your sleds, travel to where you ride, and go 8.54 miles before your trail permit has been used up in terms of grant sponsor reimbursement. I don’t know many snowmobilers who only ride 8.54 miles a season. Do you?

Under the trail permit fee law passed in 2008, the cost of trail permits in Michigan will stay at $45 a year through 2015. In October 2016 “and every fifth year there after,” the cost of a trail permit will reflect the “cumulative percentage change in consumer price index.” This means that trail permits will increase every five years. The increase will be based on the “cumulative” cost of living over the previous five years.

Please keep in mind the funds from trail permit sales and a small portion of the return we see from our gas tax are the only two funding mechanisms we have for our snowmobile program.

During the 2010-11 season 372,906.7 miles were groomed. Fuel to groom those miles came in at $770,460.14. The total cost to sign, brush, maintain, groom, purchase equipment and fuel was $1,704,183.62.

Take a look at the following charts and I think you will see the snowmobile program is doing great things with the funds we have. We would like you, the user who pays for the snowmobile program to know exactly how and where your dollars are spent in Michigan.

 

New DNR Director Reorganizes Forest Service Management Division

What is it that they say? The only thing constant is change. Well, here we go again, change and reorganization of the Forest Service Management Division (FMD) of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

According to the new Director of the DNR Rodney Stokes the FMD staff has been in charge of a large portion of responsibilities across a wide range of timber, oil, gas, mineral, land, fire management and recreation program activities. Stokes said that he believes it’s better for each of the DNR’s divisions to operate with a more singular focus.

That is why he split FMD into more function-specific units.

Stokes explained that the DNR has to do everything it can to sustainably manage and protect Michigan’s natural resources, while capitalizing on the economic opportunities they offer. He said in recent years, it has become clear that DNR has a central and growing role in Michigan’s natural resource-based economy and in the promotion of outdoor recreation opportunities.

What the Change Means to Snowmobilers

Most important to snowmobilers is the transfer of personnel and functions of Forest Management Division’s (FMD) Recreation and Trails section into the Parks and Recreation Division. Currently, there are two different DNR divisions that promote and manage camping and trail use. The new director feels that uniting our camping and trail management and promotion responsibilities within a single division will help the DNR realize greater efficiency, improve outreach and greatly boost the ability to establish

All changes become effective Jan. 8, 2012. We don’t know all of the details, and some specifics still have to be worked out, but we are looking forward to creating new partnerships and working through this time of change.

This is the third time in recent history that management of trail use (including snowmobiling) has been turned over to parks and recreation; moving it from the Forest Management Division.

The approximately 6,300 miles of designated snowmobile trails in Michigan are dependent upon a multitude of partnerships that involve approximately , 25 percent state lands 50 percent private lands, and 25 percent federal lands.

At this time, we have complete faith and trust that the new director feels this is best, and we are ready to work within these new partnerships. We are willing to do everything we can to assist the director with these changes, and accomplish making Michigan, “The Trail State.”

Other Program Changes Announced By the New Director

The Forest Resources Division has the responsibility of working closely with the new Timber Advisory Council. This division chief will also serve as the state forester, initially reporting directly to the director of the DNR. This new division will manage state forests and be a major partner in Michigan’s vital timber industry. The Forest Management Division (FMD) will no longer exist.

The Office of Land Administration is also being established as part of the DNR’s Administration Bureau. This office will include the oil, gas and mineral responsibilities currently housed in FMD, along with the existing Real Estate section currently within the Finance and Operations Division. In addition, all department issues of trespass, easements and use permits will be consolidated into the Real Estate section’s area of responsibility.

In reference to these changes, the new DNR director said, “These are big changes, but I believe these are necessary, right steps in order for the DNR to be successful in meeting its priorities and performing its mission.”

Comment Period Continues Through Dec. 21

There is still time for you to comment on the Huron-Manistee National Forests Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). The SEIS proposes to ban snowmobiling and gun hunting within 14 Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized Areas (SPNM) on these forests as the result of a legal decision by the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals.

You need to comment on this issue to help fight the proposed closures to snowmobiling and hunting with guns in the Huron-Manistee National Forests! While this debate is over a desire by some for more “quiet” areas in the forests, expectations are unrealistic and show that these people don’t understand the true surroundings found within the forests.

You just need to let the Forest Service know that you are in favor of Proposed Action Alternative 3 and opposed to Proposed Action Alternative 2. Just tell the Forest Service that they would be destroying our snowmobile trail network in this area. Tell them that Alternative Action 2 would destroy a snowmobiler’s ability to ride cross-country in these areas.

Make It Personal

We need people to send in their personal thoughts on the issue. To assist you in this, we have posted MSA’s five-page response on our Web site (www.msasnow.org). Look to this statement for guidance and put your response to the issue in your own words. Tell the forest service that you support Alternative 3. As I’ve said in this column more than once, your comments will make the difference and personal letters carry more weight in the overall process.

By all means, if your time is limited download the form letter found on MSA’s Web site, sign it, and send it in. However, if you have a little time, please write a personal letter. The letter you submit doesn’t have to be long and lengthy. You just need to let the Forest Service know that you are in favor of Proposed Action Alternative 3 and opposed to Proposed Action Alternative 2. Just tell the Forest Service that they would be destroying our snowmobile trail network in this area. Tell them that Alternative Action 2 would destroy a snowmobiler’s ability to ride cross-country in these areas.

Visit the MSA Web site at www.msasnow.org to obtain updates, comment information, and links to this process. We are doing our best to keep you informed regarding this critical issue. Rest assured those who want us out of our National Forests are doing everything they can to take away our right to recreate on our public lands.

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Still Time to Comment on Huron-Manistee National Forest Plan

Last month, the Huron-Manistee National Forests released a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for public review and comment. There is precious time remaining to comment on this plan and let the Forest Service know our (snowmobilers’) preferred alternative. Comments will be taken until Dec. 21, 2011.

You need to comment on this issue to help fight the proposed closures to snowmobiling and hunting with guns in the Huron-Manistee National Forests! While this debate is over a desire by some for more “quiet” areas in the forests, expectations are unrealistic and show that these people don’t understand the true surroundings found within the forests.

A Proposed Ban

The SEIS proposes to ban snowmobiling and gun hunting within 14 Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized Areas (SPNM) on these forests as the result of a legal decision by the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals.

Your MSA staff is in the process of wading through this, 198-page document, to help you better understand how each of the alternatives might affect you.

Here are the four alternatives outlined in the plan with our initial assessment.

ALTERNATIVE # 1 No action alternative.

While this keeps things as is, it doesn’t comply with the problems the court case pointed out and probably leaves it open to more legal challenges.

ALTERNATIVE # 2 Proposed action.

This gives Mr. Meister exactly what he wanted, no snowmobiling or firearm hunting in the 14 areas in question. Clearly, MSA strongly opposes this one. Proposed Action Alternative 2 would essentially shut off trail networks both north to south and east to west across the Northern Lower Peninsula. All snowmobile trails which would be closed by Alternative 2 are located on open public roads and should remain open for winter snowmobile trail use.

Proposed Alternative 2 would effectively eliminate important small links within the overall trail network and consequently eliminate connectivity for significantly larger portions of the trail system.

Last month, I wrote that snowmobilers would have trouble getting from Ogemaw Hills to Houghton Lake. While we could still travel this route, our network would be broken with this ban. We would no longer be able to connect to other trails through the Huron National Forest.

ALTERNATIVE # 3 Change management area designation to align with the current uses of the areas. Basically, if you like how things are right now and want that to be the management goal for these 14 areas, this alternative is probably for you. This alternative allows snowmobiling and all firearm use to continue as is. The areas in question should be defined as Semi-Primitive Motorized areas, and kept open to snowmobiling and firearm hunting.

ALTERNATIVE # 4. Change management area designation and manage to provide a less roaded recreation experience. This is the USFS’s preferred alternative, which also allows all snowmobiling and firearm hunting to continue as is. However, the new goal for these 14 areas would be to continue to reduce road mileage density in many of the areas. This alternative negatively impacts both snowmobilers and fire arm hunters.

A Personal Letter Carries More Weight Than a Form Letter

The Forest Service received more than 9,000 letters on this issue. We were told that 2,500 were form letters from members of the Fund for Animals. These letters came from all over the world, and were in favor of closing our public lands to snowmobiling and fire arms hunting.

That is why we have to make sure our voices are heard. We have also been told that the Forest Service has decided to classify duplicate form letters as one comment. For example, those 2,500 form letters form the Fund for Animals would now only be considered one comment.

By all means, if your time is limited download the form letter found on MSA’s Web site, sign it, and send it in. However, if you have a little time, please write a personal letter. The letter you submit doesn’t have to be long and lengthy. You just need to let the Forest Service know that you are in favor of Proposed Action Alternative 3 and opposed to Proposed Action Alternative 2. Just tell the Forest Service that they would be destroying our snowmobile trail network in this area. Tell them that Alternative Action 2 would destroy a snowmobiler’s ability to ride cross-country in these areas.

Please also keep in mind that Michigan has the largest number of registered snowmobiles in the U.S. yet, on a per capita basis, the fewest miles of snowmobile trails. All existing trails on these forests are critical to meeting the high demand for snowmobile trails in Michigan. We need more opportunities, not less.

National Forests are to be enjoyed for multiple recreation uses; be very cautious about excluding public use based upon subjective positions or bias of a few toward other legitimate recreation use.

Once Comments are Received

Once the comment process is complete, the Forest Service will take all comments, both in favor of the ban and against the ban, and consider them in their decision. Remember form letters are collected, piled and considered one comment, either for or against.

The Forest Service will then come up with their recommendation. They will take that recommendation back before the issuing judge for his approval. We are working hard to make sure that this recommendation keeps these areas open to snowmobiling and firearms hunting. We also realize that once this recommendation is made and the judge makes his decision, lawsuits will more than likely be filed. Remember it was a lawsuit that started this entire process -- Meister v. USDA Forest Service Court Case. We will, more than likely be talking about this issue for months to come.

For more information

For more information about this process, call the Huron-Manistee National Forests office, at (231) 775-2421 to request a CD of the SEIS documents. You can also visit the Forest Service Web site at www.fs.fed.us/; select Huron-Manistee from the “By Name” menu at the top right of the page and hit “Go.” Once the Huron-Manistee page opens, click on “Forest Plan SEIS” under Quick Links at the top right of the page. The Land and Resources Management page will open, which contains the “Draft SEIS PDF Suite” files with all SEIS documents.

Visit the MSA Web site at www.msasnow.org to obtain updates, comment information, and links to this process. We are doing our best to keep you informed regarding this critical issue. Rest assured those who want us out of our National Forests are doing everything they can to take away our right to recreate on our public lands.

 

Time to Take Action on

Proposed Snowmobiling Ban

Draft SEIS in the Huron-Manistee National Forests Proposes to Ban Snowmobiling

The Huron-Manistee National Forests has released a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for public review and comment. The SEIS proposes to ban snowmobiling and gun hunting within 13 Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized Areas (SPNM) on these forests as the result of a legal decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals. Your participation in this process is critical!

Now that the SEIS has been released, we need you to send letters to the Forest Service in support of Proposed Action Alternative 3 of the SEIS. The areas in question should be defined as Semi-Primitive Motorized areas, and kept open to snowmobiling and firearm hunting.

Tell them that you are opposed to Proposed Action Alternative 2, which would essentially shut off trails both north to south and east to west across the Northern Lower Peninsula.

Snowmobilers in Cadillac would no longer be able to get Traverse City Baldwin or Reed City. Riders would also have trouble getting from Ogemaw Hills to Houghton Lake.

A Little Background

As a result of a U.S. Court of Appeals decision, comments were taken by the Forest Service on two proposed alternatives related to snowmobile-use and firearm use in semi-primitive non-motorized management areas and firearm use in or near primitive areas.

1.         No action- This alternative would maintain the direction in the 2006 Forest Plan.

2.         Notice of Intent - Amend the Plan to follow the 6th Circuit Court ruling.  This alternative would ban gun hunting on all areas and snowmobile use within and adjacent to selected SPNM areas.

The Forest Service received more than 9,000 letters on this issue. We were told that 2,500 were form letters from members of the Fund for Animals. These letters came from all over the world, and were in favor of closing our public lands to snowmobiling and fire arms hunting.

Send Your Own Personal Letter

Your MSA Board knows that this issue and process can be difficult to understand. That is why we are providing the following information for you to include within your own personal letters. Please realize that the Forest Service tends to throw out form letters, so your personal letter will carry the most weight in this process. You need to write to the Forest Service and tell them that you support Proposed Action Alternative 3 of the SEIS. The areas in question should be defined as Semi-Primitive Motorized areas, and thereby keep all existing areas open to snowmobiling and firearm hunting.

Also, tell the Forest Service that you are opposed to Proposed Action Alternative 2. It would be wrong to ban snowmobile use and firearm hunting in existing SPNM areas on these forests.

More Information You Can Include

The Proposed Action ignores the SEIS analysis which shows that less than 27 percent of existing SPNM areas are located beyond a 1/2 mile from open public roads; therefore these areas clearly fail to meet “remoteness” conditions expected to be found in true SPNM areas.

The Forest Service made a serious mistake when it classified the 13 parcels of lands in question as SPNM in 2006 based purely upon ill conceived wishes for unrealistic future “desired conditions.” Proper forest management should, instead, be based upon a realistic interpretation of existing and future conditions, i.e. facts and proper application of agency standards, rather than merely hoping a sow’s ear may eventually become a silk purse for SPNM advocates.

If Alternative 2 is selected, the 2006 SPNM classification error will only be proliferated and likely lead to additional litigation, while choosing Alternative 3 can properly correct this mistake.

All snowmobile trails which would be closed by the Proposed Action are located on open public roads and should therefore remain open for winter snowmobile trail use.

The SEIS improperly minimizes the cumulative effects of Alternative 2. While the Proposed Action will close “only 14.3 miles” of the 525 miles of snowmobile trail in this area, this closure will effectively eliminate important small links within the overall trail network and consequently eliminate connectivity for significantly larger portions of the trail system.

While the Proposed Action would eliminate snowmobile trails across the SPNM areas, it would not close summer ORV trails across the same parcels of land. This defies logic and further demonstrates the flawed reasoning and motivations behind choosing Alternative 2 as the Proposed Action.

The SEIS clearly proves there is no duplication of efforts in providing snowmobiling or firearm hunting opportunities in Michigan; therefore all existing opportunities are important and should be continued.

Michigan has the largest number of registered snowmobiles in the U.S. yet, on a per capita basis, the fewest miles of snowmobile trails. All existing trails on these forests are critical to meeting the high demand for snowmobile trails in Michigan. We need more opportunities, not less.

National Forests are to be enjoyed for multiple recreation uses; be very cautious about excluding public use based upon subjective positions or bias of a few toward other legitimate recreation use.

After the Comment Process

The Draft SEIS will be published in the Federal Register within the next few weeks. Comments will be taken on it through mid-December.

Once the comment process is complete, the Forest Service will take all comments, both in favor of the ban and against the ban, and consider them in their decision. The Forest Service will then come up with their recommendation. They will take that recommendation back before the issuing judge for his approval. We are working hard to make sure that this recommendation keeps these areas open to snowmobiling and firearms hunting. We also realize that once this recommendation is made and the judge makes his decision, lawsuits will more than likely be filed. Remember it was a lawsuit that started this entire process -- Meister v. USDA Forest Service Court Case.

To Find Out More

For more information about this process, call the Huron-Manistee National Forests office, at (231) 775-2421 to request a CD of the SEIS documents. You can also visit the Forest Service Web site at www.fs.fed.us/ ; select Huron-Manistee from the “By Name” menu at the top right of the page and hit “Go.” Once the Huron-Manistee page opens, click on “Forest Plan SEIS” under Quick Links at the top right of the page. The Land and Resources Management page will open, which contains the “Draft SEIS PDF Suite” files with all SEIS documents.

Visit the MSA Web site at www.msasnow.org to obtain updates, comment information, and links to this process. We will do our best to keep you informed regarding this critical issue. Rest assured those who want us out of our National Forests are doing everything they can to take away our right to recreate on our public lands.

You need to comment on this issue to help fight the proposed closures to snowmobiling and hunting with guns on the Huron-Manistee National Forests!

You Can Provide Comments By:

Mail: Huron-Manistee National Forest, Attn: Ken Arbogast, 1755 S. Mitchell St., Cadillac, MI 49601

Fax: (231) 775-5551

E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; the subject line should state: Forest Plan SEIS

March 2011

Many of you are wondering where we are at on the Huron-Manistee National Forest Plan and the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) that is currently underway at the National Forest Service level. MSA officers have also had several questions in regards to permanent trails, and the use of the Permanent Snowmobile Trails Easement subaccount setup when snowmobile registrations were increased.

Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

On Sept. 29, 2010, the U.S Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in the case of Meister vs. U.S. Department of Agriculture, ruled that there were deficiencies in the original Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prepared for the Huron-Manistee Land and Resource Management Plan Revision of 2006. At issue was snowmobiling and hunting “in or near” semi primitive forest areas.

In response to this court decision, on Dec. 28, 2010, the Huron-Manistee National Forests published a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare a SEIS. This SEIS is to assess the environmental impacts of a Land and Resource Management Plan (Plan) alternative that would ban firearm hunting and snowmobile use on National Forest lands within and near semi primitive, non motorized management areas.

The Forest Service sought comments on two alternatives – no action or close these areas to hunting and snowmobiling. We have asked you to send your comments, and many of you did. Those out there wishing to keep us out of our National Forests have also sent many comments.

We need to be patient. This is going to be a long process. Comments on the two alternatives were closed on Feb. 11, 2011.

MSA’s complete response can be found on a Web site, www.masnow.org. We will try to keep you informed, but remember we are looking at a 15-month process.

Even the Department of Natural Resources agrees with MSA that “no action” should be taken in regards to hunting and snowmobiling in the Huron-Manistee National Forest. In a letter to the Forest Service, Rodney A. Stokes, DNR Director-designate wrote, “In terms of the two alternatives the Service listed in the SEIS Notice of Intent, the No Action Alternative maintains the integrity of the approved forest plan which we supported relative to Mr. Meister’s appeal in 2006, and we continue to support today.”

The Forest Service will now take all of your comments and come up with action alternatives that will require more comments before any decisions are made. Comments will be sought on those new alternatives sometime in June 2012. I fully expect to be giving another update on this issue in the March 2012 Michigan Snowmobile News. The process takes time, but we have to stay on top of it.

Permanent Trails Update

I wanted to give you an update on the Permanent Trail Legislation that was passed in December 2008. When snowmobile registrations were increased to $30 (for three years), $8 from each registration was slated for a Permanent Snowmobile Trail Easement subaccount.

This Permanent Snowmobile Trail Easement subaccount would be used to purchase lands or easements for permanent snowmobile trails in Michigan. You can find the exact wording of this legislation online at www.msasnow.org. Public Act (PA) 400 of 2008, which established our Permanent Snowmobile Trails subaccount, seems pretty straight forward. You would think that we would already be using the funds to buy some land for permanent easements. Well, let me tell you the MSA has learned a lesson about LAW with this act.

Take a close look at Section (6) of the law. Specifically, the key words “shall promulgate rules for the administration.”

(6) The department in consultation with the snowmobile advisory committee shall promulgate rules for the administration of the permanent snowmobile trail easement subaccount.

The Administrative Rule Process

In January 2009, Frank Wheatlake, chair if the Snowmobile Advisory Committee (SAC), appointed members Lee Murray and Bill Manson to work with the DNR and start the process of “promulgating the rules” that will govern the process of spending the money from this account. These rules have to be set in place before any purchase of permanent easements for snowmobile trails.

We met with the DNR and the State Office of Administrative Rules (SOAR). We were informed of the process. Our job was to first put a set of rules together.  Those set of rules then went back and forth from us to SOAR to the lawyers in the state office. That took until July 2009.

The next step was to publish the rules in newspapers in the lower and upper peninsulas. After that, we set a date for a meeting to comment on the rules. That date was in August 2009. MSA was the only one to comment on those rules. The set of rules then when back to the attorneys for another review.

From there, the rules went to the DNR, then back to SOAR, and then to the legislature. The rules must be reviewed by the State House, as well as the Senate leadership. That's where we are right now. Legislators from the session that ended in December 2010 did not review the rules, so action on them carried over to the new session that started in January 2011.

Because this session has just about all new legislators, it will most likely be March 2011before the review takes place. When that review is complete, it goes back to SOAR and another review from the Attorney General's office.  Then the rules will published and go into effect. My best guess is that this will happen in June 2011. We never want to add, change or create another set of Administrative Rules.

Keeping Watch on the Funds

The money collected from snowmobile registrations over the last two years has not been spent, and is in the Permanent Snowmobile Trail Easement subaccount. Rest assured, MSA is keeping an eye on all of the money collected from snowmobilers. We are making sure it will be spent for the intended use!

Historic Snowmobile
Registration Becomes Law: 2011 Snowmobile Law Updates

After working for more than a year with the Antique Snowmobile Club of America and the Vintage Snowmobile Club, MSA’s efforts have paid off. PA 371 – the Historic Snowmobile registration became law on Dec. 30, 2010.
It’s been a long strange journey to this point. Just when it looked as though this legislation was going to die in Senate committee, it was pulled out of committee and approved by the Senate unanimously.
Let me explain what has happened since I last wrote about this legislation in September. The Historic Snowmobile registration bill passed in the State House in Sept. 8, 2010. It then sat on the Senate side in the Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs committee. Dozens of calls were made to state Senators from MSA officers and members of the Snowmobile Advisory Workgroup (SAW) committee made dozens of phone calls to our state Senators regarding the lack of a hearing within this committee. None of our concerns were being heard.
Our lobbyist, Noel LaPorte, was able to work with Senate leadership, and on Nov. 30, 2010, the bill was discharged from committee without a hearing. On Dec. 2, 2010, it was voted on by Senate and passed 35-0, unanimously.
The Historic Snowmobile registration was signed by the Governor on Dec. 29, 2010. PA 371 – Historic Snowmobile registration was filed with Secretary of State. The legislation was to be put “immediately into effect.”
Before historical snowmobilers get all excited about this “immediately into effect,” clause let me explained. Shortly after the legislation was approved, MSA received a call from our lobbyist. He explained that in discussing the new legislation with the Secretary of State’s office he was told that they were taken by surprise that this bill had passed.
Someone on the Senate subcommittee, where the bill had sat since September, had told the Secretary of State’s office that this bill would not pass before the end of this session; thus effectively killing the legislation. The Secretary of State’s office had not made computer program adjustments for this new registration.
Keep in mind we also have a have a new Secretary of State who is in the process of appointing a new staff. Getting a new decal for this historical registration just couldn’t be done that quickly.
In January, MSA will be working with the two state antique snowmobile clubs to redesign that decal while the Secretary of State’s office is working to reprogram their computer system for the new registration.
We want a nice decal that will look good on these historic sleds, not something that the state rushed to create. With that said, the new Historic Snowmobile registration will go into effect until Oct. 1, 2011.

Registration of a Historic Snowmobile
Under this legislation, a “Historic Snowmobile” is a vehicle that is more than 25 years old at the time the vehicle’s owner applies for state registration. It must be owned solely as a collector's item and may be used for participation in club activities, rides, exhibitions, tours, parades, occasional use, and similar uses, including mechanical testing.”
For a one-time fee of $50, the owner would be given a Historic Snowmobile registration sticker for placement above or below the headlight. A Historic Snowmobile will be exempt from the Michigan Snowmobile Trail Permit requirements. The Historic Snowmobile Registration will remain valid for as long as the snowmobile is owned by the person who registered it as a Historic Snowmobile.

Historic Registration Funding Splits
Of that $50 registration fee, $3 will go to the Secretary of State for administration. Another $5 will be appropriated to the department for financial assistance to county sheriff departments and local law enforcement agencies for local snowmobile programs. The remaining $42 will be deposited in the Recreational Snowmobile Trail Improvement for the purposes of planning, construction, maintenance, and acquisition of trails and areas for the use of snowmobiles, or access to those trails and areas, and basic snowmobile facilities. One hundred percent of that $42 will go toward snowmobile trails.
All current exemptions from registration and trail permit including those used only on lands owned or under the control of the snowmobile's owner, those used only for certain safety education or training programs, and those used only for certain special events. Failure to register a snowmobile may result in a fine of not more than $50.

Next Legislative Session
January 2011 opened a brand new session of our state legislature. Bills that were not signed into law before the end of December 2010 have died. These bills must now be reintroduced and travel through the various House and Senate committees before they are voted on. The process takes time and a lot of education and patience.
We also have many new senators and representatives who took office in January. Term limits in Michigan make the educational process a challenging one for your MSA leadership.
We will be visiting every new state senator and representative to present them with a snowmobile fact book and begin that educational process. As I’ve stated in the past, many of these new legislators are not snowmobilers and have no idea just how important our industry is to this state. We will be working hard to educate these new legislators and make sure they know everything about snowmobiling’s $1 billion economic impact on our state.

Snowmobile Law Updates Needed for 2011
The following is a list of legislation we hope to look at during the new legislature:
1. Snowmobile trail permit increase for rental sleds
2. Revise the section dealing with snowmobile rentals -- Section 324.82117
3. Make online snowmobile safety classes work
4. Revise appropriation allocations for law enforcement
5. Make the Snowmobile Advisory Workgroup (SAW) part of the law.
6. Revise Section 324.82110a (8) to recognize SAW instead of SAC
7. Revise the snowmobile trail permit section to allow the distributor another $1 for handling
8. Update Section 324.82119 Operations of Snowmobile Prohibited
9. Revise Section 324.82120 Supervision of a child less than 12 years old; (DEFINE "direct adult supervision")
10. Section 324.82112 Lights and Brakes, add Section 324.82131 Display of Lighted Headlight to the first section listed -- revise the model year to a date for lights
11. Revise civil infractions and misdemeanor

The DNR Once Again
As many of you have heard, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, created by the merger of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Department of Agriculture in 2009, has been split back into two separate entities. The snowmobile program will once again fall under the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Rodney Stokes has been appointed to director of the new DNR. MSA has worked with Stokes many times during the more than 25 years he has held various state posts. We are looking forward to working with him again in this new capacity.
It is important to note that the new Michigan Snowmobile Trails Advisory Council (MSTAC) will remain in place within the DNR. The SAW will also remain a workgroup subcommittee within MSTAC. As I stated earlier, we will be working legislatively to get the SAW to become part of snowmobile law

Keep Informed – Send Us Your E-Mail Address
If you want to keep informed regarding these and any other legislative issues, watch our Web site, www.msasnow.org. Also, make sure you get the latest E-news. E-mail the office
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with your e-mail address and ask to be added to the E-news mailing list.


 

Snowmobile trails in Michigan are open from December 1st through March 31st.
The Michigan Snowmobile Association is a volunteer organization dedicated to the
improvement of the sport of snowmobiling in Michigan.