|Update from The MSA President|
A Good Season -- Still Work to Be Done
It seems like the season has just started, and now it is nearing the end. I hope the area that you enjoy riding in was blessed with ample snow this year. The winter started off a little slow, but once the snow came in my area it just kept coming. It has been the best snow year in several years.
We started grooming in the Jordan Valley area just before Christmas and have been grooming pretty much ever since. There were several meltdowns, but for the most part, they did not destroy the trail completely. Some of the warm ups actually helped the trail. The warm ups turn our dry lake, effect snow into a layer of high moisture snow that then freezes. We have learned over the years that when we get some warm weather that settles the snow, and we can groom it flat before it freezes, we generally have a better trail than if it had stayed cold.
I have heard many people say how good the snowmobiling has been in many parts of the state. The grant sponsors are out working to make the trails the best they can be. That’s not to say that there have not been some problems along the way.
One of the first accumulating snows this year was both a blessing and a curse. The weather had been warm and the trees became covered in the wet heavy snow, many of the trees bent over and closed off the trails all over the Northern Lower. Trees that were 20-feet away from the trail bent over and blocked the trail along with the trees along the trail. The trees then froze in that position. Even when you would knock the snow from the tree, they would not stand back up. Hundreds (probably thousands over the whole area) of trees had to be cut in order to clear the trails for the groomers to get through. This trail clearing took many grant sponsors to the brink of what their volunteers could effectively handle. Many groups had to hire heavy equipment to go in and clear trails.
A Good Winter, Only a Few Trouble Areas
After that first heavy snow, it has been a good winter. MSA has only heard of a few areas having major equipment problems. One group in the western U.P. didn’t get their equipment that was being repaired by the dealer back before the snow fell. This caused many complaints of rough trails in that area. Adjacent grant sponsors tried to help until they had their machine back. It is hard to groom more than you already have without causing a problem in your own area. The tractor was eventually returned, so grooming could be done by that group.
Remember when you see bad trails (not just rough at the end of the day), please call the MSA office and let us know about it. We can’t help fix what we do not know about. When a complaint is made to the office about bad trails the person taking the call fills out a form with all of the information. The complaint form is then sent out by email to the MSA officers, the grant sponsor for that area, the DNR contact for that area, and the DNR program manager in Lansing. As you can see, it is not ignored, and it does mean something.
When I receive an email about a bad area, I normally make some calls to try and find out what is going on. I or one of the other officers will then work toward a solution when possible. There have been some complaints this year, but overall the grant sponsors are doing a great job. When you look at the hours that people volunteer to make the trail system what it is in this state, it is nearly unbelievable. All of the volunteers deserve a huge THANK YOU!
Educating our Legislators
The officers and the office staff of MSA have been very busy this winter doing many events as well as attending meetings all over the state. One of the events we do that is huge for snowmobiling in the state of Michigan is taking our legislators out snowmobiling. This year the trip was a two- day trip that started and ended in Petoskey -- at the snowmobile club house there.
There is not enough space here to tell everything that goes in to this ride, but I will say that it is made possible by many people volunteering to help. This year the Petoskey Snowmobile Club stepped up to help big time. The ride started at their clubhouse, and they made sure the clubhouse was open with fresh coffee and doughnuts in the morning. The club went way beyond that. We had to haul snowmobiles there the day before, and Jim Yell and his wife Teresa gave us the use of their barn to put nearly 20 snowmobiles in for the night. In the morning several club members volunteered to move the snowmobiles from Jim’s barn to the clubhouse. They had them all there ready to be assigned to the riders in the morning. They also loaned us a key to the clubhouse, so when the ride ended the next day there was a warm place to change clothes and organize all of the gear that needed to be packed up.
After leaving Petoskey, we rode toward the Mackinaw Bridge. We stopped at the Harbor Springs Snowmobile Club groomer barn in Pelston, where that club had it open and ready for a nice rest stop. Members of the Harbor Springs Club also volunteered to move cars from Petoskey to Mackinaw City for some of the riders who could only ride with us for one day. This group also went above and beyond to help. Our ride also included crossing the Mackinaw Bridge, twice. To help us get 20 snowmobiles over the bridge for a short ride and then back to Mackinaw City, Travis from Indian River Sports Center loaned us his 10-place snowmobile trailer and his truck to pull it with. We were met in St. Ignace by representatives of the Straights-Area Snowmobile Club. All three clubs had their groomers ready to show the legislators and answer questions. Thanks to everybody who helped. This ride was a great success. We also had the Directors of both the DNR and the DEQ ride with us on Sunday. We had some great discussions of what can be done to make snowmobiling even better in the state of Michigan.
Remember, Each One, Reach One to grow the MSA.
HAVE FUN, BE SAFE, AND THINK SNOW.
Helping Fund Your MSA
It’s time to take down that old American Council of Snowmobile Associations (ACSA) calendar, put up the new 2013 calendar, and get ready to win some money in 2013. It seems like every time you turn around someone is asking you to open up your wallet to support a cause. Of course snowmobiling is no different. Your support helps pay the bills and allows the fight, to keep our options as snowmobilers open, to continue. It’s too bad the people who do not like us (you can decide what you want to call them) are so good at raising money, and of course so wrong in their thinking.
The MSA, and other organized snowmobile groups, would like few things better than to not have to constantly defend our ability to ride snowmobiles and the availability of places to ride. The truth is the people who do not like us are very well organized, when it comes to fund raising. Some of these groups are funded by people who have more money than they can find good uses for, so they use it to fight motorized recreation. This means that groups like the MSA must always raise funds to help keep ridding areas open.
MSA has many other things that would benefit snowmobiling in which we would rather spend our (YOUR) money on. But we must always be ready to fight the fight for accessibility. When we lose access, we have nothing. There is no need to have a snowmobile if you have no place to ride.
We all know that MSA does many more things and works with many positive groups and organizations, but spending in one area always takes away from another. I thought I would spend some time this month talking about some of the ways we raise money, and the unnoticed benefits that some of the fund-raising may have.
I mentioned the ACSA calendar at the beginning of this column, or what Bill Manson likes to call the Ugly Calendar (They have improved the look for this year.) The ACSA calendar is primarily a fund-raiser for ACSA, but if you buy your calendar from the MSA it becomes a fund- raiser for the MSA. We get to keep a selling fee for the calendar. The calendar is a great way to win some money. There are prizes given away every day, and winner’s names are returned to the pot after each drawing.
The MSA has a few other agreements that have a pay-back to MSA, our members, or both. One of the well known ones is our association with American Income Life (AIL). American Income life gives all of our members a $4,000 dollar accidental death and dismemberment policy. AIL also provides a $2,000 scholarship program. AIL sends out a mailing to all of the MSA members notifying them of this benefit and offers to have a representative meet with you. To date AIL has paid out about $59,000 in benefits to MSA members through this member-benefit policy.
Liberty Mutual is another company that works with MSA. Liberty Mutual gives the members of MSA a discount for auto insurance as well as other policies. Liberty Mutual has an Infinity Agreement with the MSA. Last year that agreement earned the MSA more than $10,000.
At the December 2012 meeting your MSA Board of Directors agreed to enter into an agreement with Foremost Insurance Group. This agreement offers the MSA members a discount on Foremost products that includes snowmobile, motorcycle, ATV, and other insurance products. The agreement with Foremost also offers non dues revenue to the MSA.
Helping Get Our Message Out
Another thing that these three agreements with these insurance companies do for MSA and its members is to allow MSA to include information to our members when they do mailings. That may not sound like a big benefit, but every time the MSA does a membership mailing it costs around $4,000. If each company does one mailing to you and we include information to you from the Association, that is a $12,000 benefit to the MSA. The Board looks very hard at any agreement that causes mail to be generated to our members. We feel that the agreements that are in place have enough benefit to our members and the Association to warrant the mailings. When you receive the mailings, please think of the benefit to your Association. Remember that doing business with these companies has a return to your Association.
The MSA also works with the Michigan Snowmobile Education and Advancement Fund (MSEAF) through their raffles. In return, the MSEAF funds many things that the MSA does. The MSEAF is doing a cash raffle this winter. The prize will be $19,999.00. The tickets will only be sent out to MSA members, and will be $10 each or three for $25. There are of course other raffles that tickets or flyers are sent out for that help keep the MSA a viable voice for snowmobiling in Michigan. Maybe someday your Association can spend less time fund raising, but until then, thank you to all of the members and non members who purchase tickets. Thank you to all of the members for taking time to open up the envelopes from the companies that have agreements with the MSA. As you can see, they really are a benefit to members and MSA.
Remember, Each One Reach One to Grow the MSA! Have fun, be safe, and think snow!
Looking Forward to a Great Season!
It does not seem like this should already be the last column for my first year as president. It has definitely been a busy time. Looking back on the past year, there were some changes. MSA has dealt with those changes and worked through them.
The biggest change for MSA last year was the office move. Our new offices are located in Wyoming. Most of the winter was spent trying to find a suitable building that could be purchased. Spring was spent getting the building ready and making the actual move. The summer months were spent fine tuning everything at the new location so MSA was ready to serve members to the fullest this season.
That does not imply that staff in the office is not busy all year long. The summer time is not spent idle; organized snowmobiling is a 12-month a year project.
There were many more things that happened this past year. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) moved the snowmobile program from the Forestry side of the state House to Parks and Recreation side. Makes sense to me since we are a recreational activity. This does of course mean many changes have taken place, with new people coming in to the program. Some people who stayed with the program also moved to Parks and Recreation. Along with this change, came a new program unit manager in Lansing. So far he has impressed us in how he is working to improve the snowmobile program. The DNR also had a new director appointed this year. So you see, the changes have been many.
Don’t Forget Sign Changes
The change that has been the most noticeable and controversial to snowmobilers was the approval of draft number six of the Michigan Motorized Trail Signing Handbook by the Snowmobile Advisory Workgroup. We have spent a great deal of time working to let people know about this, as well as working with the grant sponsors, so that everyone has an understanding of how the trails will be signed. Many of the grant sponsors are finding that there are more arrows being put up than they had planned on. A second order for arrows had to be placed to have enough for all the trails.
Tom Anderson and his family were generous enough to donate a space at the Snowmobile USA show in Novi so that the MSA could have a sign display setup. We spoke to snowmobilers who had questions about the signs. I was kept busy all three days of the show speaking with, and listening to, snowmobilers about the signs.
While on the subject of the Snowmobile
USA show in Novi, there seemed to be a high level of excitement about the new season. The show was very well attended. Vendors reported that people where buying more this year. At the MSA booth there were as many trail permits sold by mid-day on Saturday than during the entire show last year. There were also quite a few memberships sold. That is always good. As they do every year at the Novi show, the Snowmads put on a safety course. It also seemed well attended.
Protecting Our Right to Ride
With fresh snow on the ground and snowmobile tracks already having been made across our fields here, I am looking forward to a great season. One thing we have to always remember is that no matter how good the weather for snowmobiling is there are other things needed to have a good season. One of the things we need is a place to ride. This is one of the more important things that organized snowmobiling works very hard to keep. Without access to public and private lands, we would have no use for all the great snow that Mother Nature may give us. There are many areas in the Snow Belt of North America that have groups trying to kick us and all motorized users out.
Just this past week, I received a copy of the Sierra Club’s letter from Wyoming trying to have us as users removed from a large percentage of the Shoshone National Forest that has traditionally been used for snowmobiling. We have to be ever vigilant and keep organizations like the MSA and other state and national associations across the country strong, so we can fight the battles for access. Here in the state of Michigan, we as snowmobilers have been paying $8 extra for each snowmobile registration to build a protected fund for purchasing permanent easements across private property. It has been a slow progression getting everything in place with the sate so that those funds can be expended and easements purchased. After a recent meeting with the MSA, the new unit manager in Lansing assured us he is working to have the process in place by the end of the year. That means that easements can start to be purchased.
Remember -- Each One, Reach One to grow the MSA. HAVE FUN, BE SAFE, AND THINK SNOW.
Grant Sponsors Working Hard to Get the Job Done
The preseason trail work should be wrapping up, and the trails are about ready to open for the season. This year has been a trying year so far for the grant sponsors that maintain the trails in Michigan. With last season’s low snowfall, trail permit sales were down dramatically and that has a direct effect on the grant sponsors.
There was about 124,000 trail permits sold last year. Many people believe that the decreased need for grooming last year should cause a surplus of funds in the program this year. They have asked where all of that extra money is going to go. The actuality of it is, low grooming was more than offset by low trail permit sales. When all the accounting was done for last season, there was $970,000 moved forward to start the 2013 season off.
That left about $1.2 million for the purchase of equipment and special projects. That sounds like a lot of money, but here is how it works out. Looking at my files from past equipment purchases; ten years ago that $1.2 million would have allowed funding for 17.39 groomers or a mix of groomer power units, drags, and special projects like new or replacement bridges. Today that same $1.2 million allowed for the funding of five groomers.
This year was the first year for Tier 4 I emission requirements on off road equipment, so that added about $15,000 to the price of each power unit. I could continue about how the price of each item has gone up, but I believe you get the idea. The bottom line is that there are many groomers that should have been replaced but where not. The grant sponsors will do the best job they can to keep the machines going and the trails groomed this year, but there will undoubtedly be some expensive repairs needed on some machines this year.
The grant sponsors normally start brushing and signing the trails in early fall, and this year was no exception to that; other than this year the sign order was not available until the third week in October. The brushing started as normal, but with the biggest sign change in over a decade, there were no new signs available when work started. Now all of the signs have to be put up within just a few short weeks. If you hear a few extra calls for help this year, don’t blame the grant sponsors for procrastinating. It was not their fault. If you don’t hear calls for help, think about making a call yourself and asking if any help is needed. The grant sponsors would love to have more help preparing the trails every year. Getting enough people to do the job makes it an enjoyable task for all. Many groups make a weekend out of it, with a cookout and other events.
For the 2012-13 season, trail reports from the msasnow.org Web site will be available as an app on your Smart Phone. It will be the same accurate report (submitted by the people who actually maintain the trails) that is featured on the MSA Web site. The report will be complete with maps. Look for it at your app store, and check it out. I would like to thank Jim Barrow for putting this app together.
There will also be more MSA clothing and accessories available on our MSA Web site. We are going to have about ten items available to order. Those items will change from time to time. An MSA commercial member will be supplying the items on an as-ordered basis and will drop ship the item to you. This allows the MSA to offer more items without the cost of stocking those items. It will also allow for specific sizes to be available and quickly shipped. Thank you B&D Classic Sewn for taking on this project at no cost to MSA.
Don’t forget Each one Reach one to Grow the MSA. Have fun, be safe and think snow!
Sign Changes and the Importance of Increasing MSA Membership
The season we all look forward to is just around the corner. We spent last weekend at the MSA All Sports Show and Swap Meet held in Martin in conjunction with the AmSnow Super Sled Shootout. There was a great turnout of vendors and swappers. We did have some rain that kept some of the attendees away, but it was overall a very good show.
I spent most of the time that the show was open in the MSA tent talking with members about many things, including explaining the new sign rules to those who had questions. We had a nice display with the new signs on one board and the signs that will no longer be used on another board. This made it easier to explain how the signs will be used this year. This display was the first time anyone had a chance to see the new arrow sign that is replacing many of the chevron signs.
When people hear that all of the chevrons are being removed from the trail, they often have a negative reaction (or at least the ones who stopped to talk about it). In the past, chevrons had a dual use. They were used to mark curves and mark turns.
It is true all chevrons are being removed, but the ones that marked turns are being replaced with a new arrow.
As I explained, when you turn from a trail that is located on a road, rail grade, power line, or other area that continues; there will be a sign about 350 feet before the turn. The new arrow sign will be located at the actual turn. Also, when the trail makes a sharp 90-degree turn there will be the same signs marking this turn. People I explained this to soon got a level of understanding and approved of the changes.
The curves in the trail will not be marked. Remember that a curve has a radius to it -- as opposed to a turn being a sharp change of direction.
The Importance of Membership
There was also a membership booth in the MSA tent. We had some great volunteers with a passion for and understanding of the importance of MSA. It is surprising how many people just don’t get it when it comes to the MSA. The MSA is the only voice being heard by the lawmakers of our state to help maintain and when possible, improve our recreational activity of choice. The MSA is the only voice being heard when it comes to access to areas for snowmobiling. The MSA is in communication with the National Forest Service, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Department of Environment Quality (DEQ), the Park Service, American Council of Snowmobile Associations (ACSA), International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA), and many other groups and agencies. The MSA works with them to make sure that snowmobiling is given the priority that we all believe it deserves.
I know I am, as they say, preaching to the choir here, but there is a reason. The MSA needs members to keep it strong. The more members, the stronger we can be. A greater number of memberships will accomplish many things, not the least of is to help keep the doors open and the MSA working for our chosen activity. The MSA is a strong Association and doing everything we can to keep costs down, but I would rather have more members helping to fund the Association than more fundraisers.
Each One – Reach One!
Another benefit of having more members is that when it comes down to it, numbers count. When we go to Lansing or Washington, D.C., or wherever we need to go, the higher the membership numbers that we represent, the stronger it makes our (your) voice. As we all know there is a benefit to being informed, and by being a member of MSA you are kept informed on what is going on. So now, back to the choir, what is one of the best ways to get new members and help make us even stronger? The best way is through YOU, the reader of this column, and member of MSA. You have a vested interest in the MSA and a passion for our sport. You also know of other snowmobilers who are not members of the MSA but are snowmobilers. We need these snowmobilers to become members of your Association and help you make the MSA stronger. This could be termed Each One - Reach One! If every member just added one more member to the membership roles, look where we would be. We are counting on each other for this.
There was a big screen TV in the MSA tent and Mike Grant from Snow Trails TV brought in a DVD that had a preview of some Public Service Announcements (PSA) that will be airing this season on Snow Trails TV. These PSAs will air on Sunday mornings.
As many of you know, I also operate a trail groomer when time permits. Groomer/ snowmobile safety is a passion of mine. A few years ago, Mike spent many hours with me while grooming and shot a lot of video showing the safe and not so safe ways to pass a groomer on a snowmobile. We then shot some more footage at our groomer workshop where we could stage some wrong things to do. There were several PSAs made with this footage and some of them will be used this season. When you see a snowmobile sliding sideways and almost being run over by a groomer on TV, remember this was staged and I never came closer than 3 inches to the groomer. In real life, I have had snowmobilers not stop until they where under the front of the groomer I was operating. HAVE FUN, BE SAFE, AND THINK SNOW!
A New MSA Office and Positive Changes for the Snowmobile Program
I know it does not seem like it should be getting close to the time to start talking about snowmobiling, but it is. After the hot dry weather of June and July, I know many have been looking forward to the snowmobile season for most of the summer.
Your MSA has been busy during the off season. We have attended meetings in Washington, D.C., as well as going to the International Snowmobile Congress that was held in Sturbridge, Mass.
One of the items that took place this off season was something that was discussed at the December 2011 MSA Board of Directors (BOD) meeting. At that meeting, the Executive Board (EB) brought up to the BOD that lower pricing in the real estate market could make it time for the MSA to look at purchasing a building for our office.
We had been renting our office space at a reduced price the last couple of years, with the understanding that the rent would be increased when the occupancy of the surrounding offices picked up and our space became more in demand. A motion was made and passed by the BOD to allow the EB to look for, and purchase, a building to be used as the home of the MSA. To shorten a long story, the MSA office is now in a nice building on S. Division Avenue in Wyoming.
There was a lot of time put into this move by many people, but I want to take this opportunity to give special praise and thanks to Karen Middendorp. Karen, as many of you know, is very dedicated and takes her job at the MSA office to heart. Karen, along with her entire family, went way above the call of duty on the office move. They spent night after night cleaning, painting, and many other things to get the building ready to be occupied as the new home of the MSA. This was done mostly during the evenings because the office still had to operate at the old location during the day. I would like to personally thank Karen, Bob, and family.
Michigan DNR Makes Some Changes
The Michigan Department of Natural Resource (DNR has made several changes since last we had snowy trails to ride. The DNR has moved the snowmobile program over to the Parks and Recreation side of the house. It makes sense to me since we are a recreational activity. The change was announced last winter but has mostly taken place after the end of the season. The changes are still ongoing, and implementation is still being laid out.
It has so far been a mix of moving people who we have worked with in the past into Parks and Recreation and integrating new people from Parks and Recreation into the snowmobile program. I was able to ride the trails with some of the top people from Parks and Recreation who hold field positions. I found their attitude to be refreshing.
The MSA has been involved in several meetings involving Lansing staff, including the Chief of Parks and Recreation, Ron Olson. I believe moving the snowmobile program to Parks and Recreation is a good change for the program.
Another change in the DNR was at the top. Rodney Stokes was tasked by the Governor for another position and Keith Creagh is now the Director of the DNR. Keith Creagh rode with the MSA in February as the then head of the Michigan Department of Agriculture. After spending three days riding the trails with Keith, I believe he has the right attitude toward snowmobiling and will do us good in his new position.
Take Note: Sign Changes on the Trail
One last thing I would like to talk about is signage on our trails. I wrote at the end of last season that it looked like the sign changes would be adopted, and they have been. This year there will be a noticeable difference in the signing of the trails here in Michigan. I am not going to go in depth about the changes here since we have an article dedicated to that in this issue of the magazine.
This is a very controversial change, as change of any kind usually is. I do believe that after reading the article with the sign changes spelled out you will have a better understanding of what has changed. We are posting a picture and description from the signing manual (of all of the signs that are used on our snowmobile trails) on our Web site, along with a link to the manual itself. Please take the time to look at this, and maybe even read the entire manual. This book is used by the grant sponsors when signing the trails. Reading this manual may give you a different perspective when riding our trails.
HAVE FUN, BE SAFE, AND THINK SNOW!
Bruce Wood, President
Working Hard for Snowmobiling Even With
Poor Riding Conditions
Well, it has been what I consider to be a poor year for snowmobiling. With this year’s weather, it may be hard to believe, but Michigan is one of the best areas in the Midwest for snowmobiling. Even with poor riding conditions, MSA volunteers continue to work hard for snowmobiling.
Here is a little bit about what is going on. I am writing this in the middle of February, so it makes it a little awkward for reading in March. Recently, the MSA Executive Board along with MSA’s Executive Directors and a couple of past presidents went on a three-day snowmobile trip with several of our legislators as well as the heads of both the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Michigan Department of Agriculture. It is through rides like this that we are able to give the legislators first-hand knowledge of snowmobiling and what snowmobilers needs are. We work hard to show these legislators how important snowmobiling is to the state and what we are trying to do to make it better. This event went very well, and a big thank you goes out to the clubs in the Upper Peninsula that helped to make it a success.
When you read this article, MSA’s annual Ride In at the Kewadin Casino in Sault Ste. Marie will have taken place. Today, it looks like the weather is going to cooperate and we will have had good weather and ride able trails for this event. If I did not see you at the Ride In this year, I hope you put it on your calendar for next year -- let’s go for a ride.
A few days after the Ride In, we have a midweek ride with one of our U.S. Congressman. The last few days of February will be spent going on an Enlightenment Ride.
This is a ride in which we invite some of our trail partners to join us. Some of those partners include the National Forest Service and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). It gives these representatives an opportunity to ride with us. Like the Legislative Ride, it gives us time to enlighten participants regarding our sport and the needs of snowmobiling in the state.
The first of March we will be attending the Snowmobile Advisory Workgroup (SAW) meeting that is being held in Ishpeming. MSA’s Groomer Workshop will be held on that Friday and Saturday.
Our groomer workshop is a great place for the groomers to come and see and operate grooming equipment that is currently available. Attendees also participate in some classes.
Snowmobile Trail Signs
One of the items that we will be discussing at the SAW meeting will be signs for snowmobile trails. This issue has been worked on for a few years now, and it may get finalized at the SAW meeting on March 1.
At this time, we are working on draft number six of a sign manual. If this draft is passed, one of the biggest things that riders will notice next year will be the removal of chevron and winding trail signs. There will be other changes, but the removal of these signs will be the biggest change for the average snowmobiler.
It is felt by many that part of the problem of excessive speed on our trails is the amount of signs that are on the trail. Some believe that people are riding from sign to sign. These same sign changes have been made in other states and parts of Canada.
There will still be all of the “Stop Ahead” and “Stop” signs as well as plenty of confidence markers to mark where the trails are. Sign changes have yet to be passed, and we will post updates on our Web site and on several online forums when these changes are approved and before implementation next year. There will also be an article in the first issue of the Michigan Snowmobile News next season explaining what the changes will be.
Also, in March we will travel to Washington, D.C. We will attend American Council of Snowmobile Association (ACSA) meetings on Sunday. Talk with several government and non-government agencies on Monday, and meet our Congressmen and Senators on Tuesday.
As you can see, it will be a busy several weeks. I hope that everybody was able to do some riding this year, and I hope to see you at one of the events that MSA will be holding or attending. Have a safe and enjoyable summer.
Looking Forward to the Future of the MSA
Here we are at the start of another new year, and this year starts off with a change in officers within the Michigan Snowmobile Association (MSA).
The bylaws of the MSA call for a term limit of two years for the office of president. It doesn’t seem like it, but Jim Dickie has come to the end of that short two-year term limit (Jim may disagree on how short it seemed). I wish to thank Jim personally for all of the work he did, and the time that he spent taking care of the business of the MSA. He worked hard to help make sure that we remain the best snowmobile association in the world, yes the world. Thank you Jim! As Jim moves on, he will still be part of the MSA Executive Board as the immediate past president for the next two years.
Don Reed will be ending his time on the MSA Executive Board, completing six years on the board -- two as vice president, two as president, and his last two years as the immediate past president of the association. Thank you Don for all of the countless hours you have spent for the MSA during your six years on the Executive Board. Don will still be active in MSA and has been elected as a member of the MSA Executive Committee, as one of the five members representing the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
The MSA Executive Board
I have been the vice president of MSA for the last two years. Ron Corbett of Flushing was elected to take my place as vice president. Ron will make a very good addition to the MSA Executive Board, with both his snowmobile and business background. Ron is no stranger to leadership in organized snowmobiling, having served as vice president of MichCanSka during its formation and ride to Alaska which also raised funds for diabetes research.
Returning to the MSA Executive Board, (hopefully for several more terms) are MSA Recording Secretary Al Green and MSA Treasurer John Houk. Both Al and John have done an excellent job for the MSA, and I know they will continue working toward the very high standards they have set for themselves. As members of the MSA Executive Board, the secretary and treasurer sort of have dual roles within the association. They are not only responsible for the record keeping of each office, but also are an intricate part of the leadership of the association and attend all of the events of the association. Thank you Al and John, for continuing on as part of the MSA Executive Board.
A Little Background
Who am I? I started snowmobiling back in 1968 on a 1968 Evinrude 16 hp Skeeter. As the story goes, my father and I went ice fishing one day, and on our way home we stopped at a snowmobile shop and my father bought that machine -- and so ended our days of ice fishing. At that time, we lived in southern Michigan. On the weekends we would take the machine to a state recreation area and take turns riding the short looped trails that were available, while dressed in the warmest hunting clothes we had. By the time I was in high school, my Mom, Dad, and I all had our own machines and the best-of-the-day, one- piece suits.
Most every night during the winter, if the weather would allow, we would go for a ride on the frozen country dirt roads as well as the same trails we rode our horses on in the summertime. We also took a few trips up north each year for some big rides. Times were changing for snowmobiling. Also, while in high school, I was very active in both 4-H and FFA. I spent my high school summers and several years after, bailing hay, riding and showing horses, and rodeoing. My winters were spent snowmobiling. A few years after high school, I joined the U.S. Army and stayed for six and a half years. I spent three years each in Germany and Alaska as a flight engineer on Chinook helicopters. I left the U.S. Army as a sergeant.
Within a few months of leaving the Army and moving back to Michigan, I had a brand new snowmobile and could not wait for the snow to come. I also joined a local club here in Northern Michigan, where my wife Connie and I now live. That’s when I joined the MSA. As time went on, I got more and more active in, not just riding a snowmobile, but the organized part of snowmobiling. I also got involved in trail maintenance and grooming. I became part of the Charlevoix County Snowmobile Council. As the council grew, we changed the name to the Jordan Valley Trails Council, as it is now.
I served about a decade as vice president of the Council and have been Council president for the last two years. During that time, I also spent several years as the president of the Charlevoix Snowmobile Club. I started to go to MSA meetings as a member of the Board of Directors, representing the Jordan Valley Trails Council. After several years, I was elected as part of the MSA Executive Committee. Four years ago, I was elected as the MSA Recording Secretary, and served in that capacity for two years before being elected as vice president two years ago. At the 2011 convention, I was elected as president of the MSA. For the past year, I have also been a grant sponsor representative for the DNR Snowmobile Advisory Workgroup.
As we move forward and continue to lead the way in organized snowmobiling, I look forward to the support of the MSA membership. I hope I did not bore anyone too bad with my background, but I thought it important for you to know a little about who you have entrusted the running of your association to. I am not retired and work a 40-hour plus week, so if you call me I may not be able to answer my phone right away. Make sure to leave me a message, and I will get back with you. I will be using my vacation time to take care of my responsibilities as needed, just as I have for several years now. Next month I will get back to talking about what is going on with MSA and snowmobiling. Safe Sledding to All!
December 2011 Article
First I want to congratulate Bruce Wood and Ron Corbett as the newly elected President and Vice-president of MSA respectively. Bruce is from the Charlevoix area and has great knowledge of the snowmobile program in MI. as he is the past Vice-president of MSA and is currently the President of the Jordan Valley Trails Council. The council maintains the trails in that area. He grooms trails, fixes groomers, brushes the trails plus does many other jobs relating to the trails in the Jordan Valley area. Bruce is also a member of the state Snowmobile Advisory Council. Ron Corbett is from the Flint area and is active in several snowmobile clubs. He is currently the Vice-president of MichCanSka, the group that rode from the Soo to Toke, Alaska in 2010. Ron has a vast business background and a special interest in sales. Both of these men love snowmobiling and offer great leadership talent to guide MSA into the future.
I want to thank the members of MSA for allowing me to be your president for the past two years. It has been an honor and a privilege to lead one of the best snowmobile associations in the United States.
I have met and worked with many wonderful people that enjoy snowmobiling as much as I do. It is unbelievable what dedicated volunteers can accomplish. Working with many different kinds of individual personalities, businesses, and units of government can be a real challenge at times. However the love of snowmobiling and wanting to make sure we have a place to ride our sleds brings us all together for a common goal. As I have said in the past,”we are all in this together”, meaning the snowmobile manufacturers, dealers, associated businesses, grant sponsors that maintain and groom the trails, and all the riders, as each group has an individual interest. We need to work together, respect each other and cooperate together in the best interest of snowmobiling. We all need each other to survive
I have had many individuals ask me “What is MSA ?” The simplest answer that I can give that they can relate to is this: MSA is a group of volunteers that want to make sure that we (you and I) have a place to ride our snowmobiles. All the work that MSA participates in has this one common goal, a place to ride our sleds. Education is probably the biggest job for MSA. Educating the people that make laws, rules and policies about snowmobiling is of utmost importance. Changes in leadership roles in government and business will always happen and MSA needs to make the necessary adjustments to deal with change in a positive way for snowmobiling. This winter MSA will again work to get our elected officials, including the governor, out on the trails so that they will become more knowledgeable about snowmobiling in Michigan. MSA will also be hosting a ride for the leaders of the Michigan DNR, National Forest Service, and other agencies so that they will better understand the snowmobile program and how the trail system interconnects across Michigan on private, state and federally owned lands. They need to know that all trails are critical to Michigan's economy and that volunteers contribute countless hours of time, energy and money to make sure that the public has a place to ride their snowmobiles. MSA will also be helping out at the I-500 snowmobile race at the Soo. Volunteers will help with security and serve as hosts in the VIP room. There will also be an MSA booth in the commercial tent manned by volunteers to meet and greet the public. As you can see MSA will be very busy this winter. Please contact the MSA office if you would like to volunteer to help MSA with any activity.
Remember, MSA is made up of volunteers working to ensure that you have a place to ride your sled.
Pass the word!
See you on the trails,
November 2011 Article
Many years ago, before I got involved with organized snowmobiling and MSA, a few of my friends and I would leave on a Thursday evening and head north for a long weekend of snowmobiling. All we thought about was getting out on the trail and having a great time riding our sleds. We never gave much thought as to how the trails were established or maintained or who groomed them. We had a set of DNR published trail maps and just assumed that the trails were all taken care of by the DNR. After all, we had their maps and a lot of the trails were on state land. It was not until the late 90's and early 2000's when we heard about the possibility of Yellowstone being closed to snowmobiles that we learned more about MSA and the snowmobile program in Michigan and the American Council of Snowmobile Associations (ACSA) on the national level. It was at this time that we discovered that volunteers from the local snowmobile clubs and other local entities were the ones that did all the trail maintenance and grooming and not the DNR. In order to get more involved in protecting our right to snowmobile in Michigan and other snowmobile areas across the nation we decided to form a new snowmobile club and join the MSA . MSA is a member of ACSA that fights for our rights on the national level, including Yellowstone. In doing so we meant other volunteers from other clubs involved with MSA and ACSA. that loved snowmobiling as much as we did.. What is common among all these groups is that they are made up of all volunteers. Jointly we work together to make sure we have a trail system in Michigan to enjoy and that our voices are heard on the national level through ACSA.
Since those early years of my involvement with MSA I have visited with hundreds of snowmobilers that still think like I did years ago! Many snowmobilers still do not know that the entire snowmobile program, with a few exceptions, is dependent on VOLUNTEERS !! It is volunteers, people like you and me that love snowmobiling, that do all the work of establishing, brushing, maintaining and grooming the trails that we all enjoy. Some people still think that MSA receives and operates with the trail permit money! That is untrue since MSA is only a selling agent for the DNR and all but one dollar or less of each trail permit sold through MSA is turned over to the DNR for deposit in the constitutionally protected snowmobile program account. Grants from this account are then made to reimburse the 69 snowmobile grooming clubs and other responsible grooming entities for their costs in maintaining the trails. For the record, MSA operates on money received from memberships, donations, merchandise sales, and fund raising activities. In addition, all officers and members of the Board of Directors of MSA are also volunteers. MSA employees only 2 full time and one part time people.
To my knowledge there is no other sport where volunteers have worked together to create a state and nation wide program that serves the public like snowmobilers have done. It is the love of the sport that keeps the volunteers active to make sure that those of us that love snowmobiling continue to have a right to ride and a place to ride our sleds. Years ago I never knew that it was individuals and families that united together in clubs and statewide organizations, like MSA, to promote and protect our sport. I challenge each of you to tell others about what snowmobile volunteers have accomplished in Michigan and across the nation. Unfortunately, in today's tough economy volunteer ism is declining. Let's hope the that the next generation of snowmobilers will get involved and volunteer to make sure that their children will have the opportunity to enjoy snowmobiling as much as we have.
Our next MSA Board of Directors meeting is on Saturday, December 10th, 9am at Foggy's in Christmas, MI. We plan to go snowmobiling on Friday the day before. You are invited to attend the meeting and to go snowmobiling with us. There is a Snowmobile Advisory Work group meeting on Thursday, December 8th , 10am at Foggy's in Christmas, MI. The public is invited to attend.
Ride safe, ride smart and see ya on the trail.
Working Hard for Organized Snowmobiling
Plan on attending the MSA Convention being held at McGuire's Resort in Cadillac on Oct. 21-23.
On Sept. 17, 2011, in Eagle River, Wis., Bill Manson, MSA'S executive director, was inducted into the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame. Bill was nominated by the Michigan Snowmobile Association Executive Board of Directors. Simply put, the snowmobile program in Michigan would not exist as we know it today without Bill's many years of hard work and dedication to organized snowmobiling. Bill has demonstrated great leadership in organizing snowmobilers and snowmobile clubs, and in working with units of government and private businesses to make sure snowmobilers have a safe trail system to use and enjoy. Bill has also helped develop multi-state and national organizations that support snowmobiling and access to our public lands for snowmobiling.
Being inducted into the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame is a prestigious award. We are very proud of Bill and offer our congratulations.
Recently, a new MSA member asked me why MSA is opposed to “designated wilderness” areas as he and his friends really didn't understand why “designated wilderness” areas would be considered bad for anyone. His question was prompted by a small bumper sticker he received with other information when he signed up as a new member at a recent snowmobile event. The sticker says “Support Access – Oppose Wilderness.” Idaho snowmobilers first developed the sticker several years ago when Congress wanted to designate hundreds of thousands of acres as wilderness in mountain areas, where snowmobiling was popular. What many people do not realize is that no mechanized device is allowed in a “designated wilderness” area. That includes snowmobiles, ATVs, guns, cars, trucks, boats, bicycles, wheel chairs, chainsaws, motorcycles, etc. Roads are closed off and access can only be gained by walking. For this reason, MSA supports access and opposes wilderness. MSA feels that public lands should be open to the public for recreation on both a state and national level. Designating areas “wilderness” is the political way of locking the public out of public lands and preventing the public from using the lands for recreation. We must stand for our rights to use public lands for recreation, including snowmobiling.
I hope you attended the MSA All Sports Show and Swap Meet at the US-131 Motorsports Park at Martin last month. As you probably know, this show replaces the MSA Snow Show that used to be held in Hastings. It was a new endeavor for MSA. If you have some ideas on how to make the show better for next year, please let us know.
Plan on attending the MSA Convention being held at McGuire's Resort in Cadillac on Oct. 21-23. It is a great time to meet many other MSA members as well as an opportunity to meet and visit with the MSA officers. The Cadillac Winter Warriors will be hosting Friday night's activities, which will focus on the convention's theme “Cadillac Country Fair.” Look for more information in this month’s magazine.
September 2011 Article
It has been a long hot summer and often times I find myself thinking about snowmobiling down a smooth trail on a sunny afternoon. Last winter, however, while on the MichCanSka ride in some of the coldest conditions that I have ever experienced, I remember thinking about sitting on a nice warm sandy beach. Seems like you just can't win, but at least the thoughts help make the unbearable weather a little more tolerable. MSA has had a busy spring and summer with many changes taking place in Michigan's snowmobile world. I will share these changes with you in the next few paragraphs.
The first change, and probably the biggest, is the change in location of the MSA Snow Show from the Barry County Fairgrounds (Hastings) to the U.S. 131 Motorsports Park just off U.S. 131 in Martin, Michigan. The dates for the MSA All Sports Show & Swap Meet are September 23-24, MSA, American Snowmobiler's Magazine 22nd annual Aeroquip Super Sled Shootout, and the U.S. 131 Motorsports Park have combined forces to produce the best ever fall snowmobile event in Michigan. All four of the snowmobile manufacturers will be present, along with a host of other venders.
A huge swap meet is scheduled with very reasonable prices that INCLUDE 2 passes to the show. Reserve your space now! Check out the ad in this magazine or on the MSA web site (msasnow.org) or call the office for details. MSA will be sponsoring a youth safety class at the show on Saturday. Contact the office at 616-361-2285 to register.
The Historic Snowmobile Registration should be available around October first, if not before. The registration sticker will be black and white, will cost $50, and is good until you transfer title to a new owner. The sled must be at least 25 years old to be eligible for the Historic Registration. No trail permit is needed for a snowmobile registered as a Historic Snowmobile.
There will be a youth Snowmobile Safety Class available on the Michigan DNR web site starting in October. The course will take a minimum of three hours to complete. Each page is “timed” and requires the participant to study the material and answer questions at the end of each chapter as well as pass a test at the end of the course. As soon as the course is available, MSA will post a link on the web site. Having this course available on line should make getting a safety certificate easier for our youth without having to travel a great distance.
As most of you know, the cost of a snowmobile trail permit will be $45 for the 2011-2012 season. The price will stay at $45 for the next five years. The trail permit money is used to buy trail grooming equipment, to repair and maintain that equipment, to buy fuel, to brush and maintain the trails, to buy trail signs, to sign the trails, to pay for trail easements across private property, to design and build bridges across streams, and to pay for program administration. To date over fifty one snowmobile clubs have indicated a need for 66 new groomers and 48 new drags. (There are approximately 170 groomers used for snowmobile trail grooming in Michigan.) The need far exceeds the money available. In recent years 10-12 groomers were purchased each year. At that rate, it will take 15+ years to replace all the groomers. Bridges are very costly and take a lot of time to design and build. In years of low grooming any extra money left in the program is used to pay for additional bridges and to buy additional equipment. This past season there were 372,906.7 miles of trails groomed at a cost of $1, 704,183. That works out to $4.57 a mile just for grooming. That amount does not include the cost of bridges, trail maintenance, easements, new equipment purchased, etc. As you can see, after we ride our sleds a little over 10 miles our $45 trail permit cost is already used up.
I hope you found the information about the recent changes helpful.
Mark the MSA All Sports Show and Swap Meet dates on your calendar and plan to attend. It should be a great show. I hope to see you there.
Another snowmobile season is almost over. It seems that we wait all year to go snowmobiling and then the season never lasts long enough. For MSA winter is the busiest time of the year. The office is busy with trail permits, raffles, trail condition reports, setting up legislative rides, dealing with the web site, along with a number of other duties and requests. MSA volunteers have also been very busy helping with security and manning a booth at the I-500 snowmobile race at Sault Saint Marie. Many hundreds of miles are driven by volunteers each year to help with MSA partnerships, meetings, and events.
January 13th, 2011
I am happy to report that on Dec.1 at approximately 10:45 PM the Michigan State Senate passed House Bill 6261 allowing owners of snowmobiles that are 25 years or older to purchase a one-time “Historic Registration”. The “Historic Registration” will also serve as a permanent trail permit for as long as the sled is owned by the same person. The Michigan House of Representatives passed the bill months ago. The passage of this bill is a huge step in allowing the owners of antique and vintage snowmobiles to ride more of their sleds at different events each year without having to register them every three years and without having to buy a trail permit every year. MSA worked hand-in-hand with representatives of the antique and vintage snowmobile groups for over a year to get this legislation passed. It will take effect October 1, 2011. (See Bill Manson's article for more details.)
|Last Updated on Friday, 12 April 2013 12:06|