What is MSA up to now?
This past month MSA participated in the ACSA Fly In to Washington DC. The event is arranged by ACSA (American Council of Snowmobile Associations), the event tries to bring all of the snowbelt states together in DC, for a day of meetings, a day of speakers, and a day to visit our national leaders to educate them on organized snowmobiling. MSA had three members go, and for cost reasons we drove out together, although it took a day out and back the cost savings were worth it.
Our speakers included Federal Hwy, Chief of the National Forest Service, US Dept of Ag, Department of Interior, Congressman Liz Cheney, a person from the Department of Economic Analysis, (BEA)
Interestingly the BEA has just published their findings that RECREATION is a healthy $374 Billion of the US GDP (gross domestic product) that’s just over 2%, huge numbers, bigger than the US oil industry! Using those statistics, recreation should get a boost and be an easier sell to our federal and state legislators.
Your representatives had meetings scheduled with both Senators and 11 of our 14 District offices. We had sit downs with many of the congressman and many with their legislative staff. Over 55 volunteers from 19 snow states across the US attended.
2018 National Legislative Priorities
Snowmobiling is a favorite winter pastime for over 2 Million people in the US. It also provides a large number of recreation opportunities for other trail users since the majority of trails are open for multiple use. Snowmobiling generates over $26 billion in annual spending and creates tens of thousands of jobs in rural areas.
We ask the Congress to:
- Pass new legislation that will return ALL fuel tax dollars paid by off-road motorized recreational vehicles to be set aside for the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) on an annual basis
- Recognize and support the motorized recreational activities in the outdoor recreational economy across the U.S.
- Protect public access and use of public lands by reviewing the Wilderness Study Areas
SNOWMOBILERS SUPPORT NEW LEGISLATION FOR RTP: Snowmobilers support new legislation that will soon be introduced to update the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). For over 20 years, only $84 million of the $270 million dollars collected as federal gas taxes generated by non-highway motorized recreation users has been returned to the RTP. The RTP funds are divided with 30% of funds earmarked for motorized recreation; 30% are similarly earmarked for non-motorized recreation. In addition, 40% are to be used for projects that are multiple use trails. New proposed legislation will return ALL fuel tax dollars paid by off-road motorized recreational vehicles to the RTP on an annual basis.
SNOWMOBILERS APPLAUD THE WILDFIRE FUNDING FIX: Snowmobilers strongly support Congress’ inclusion of a comprehensive wildfire funding solution, paired with reasonable forest management reforms in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. This action should curb the practice of borrowing from non-wildfire programs, including recreation, for wildfire costs. This should protect necessary investments and maintenance in the trails program, to provide enjoyable, safe and modern facilities. We urge full implementation of the important action.
SNOWMOBILERS SUPPORT THE RELEASE OF MANY WILDERNESS STUDY AREAS: Millions of acres have been placed in Wilderness Study Areas for decades, with no action. Access to these federal lands is very important. Snowmobiling and other off-highway vehicle recreation continues to be an important economic generator in many states. Communities adjacent to federal lands are the beneficiaries of the economic drivers stemming from motorized recreation, in all seasons of the year.
For More Information, Contact:
American Council of Snowmobile Associations
271 Woodland Pass
East Lansing, MI 48823
Death of a Trail……
Establishing a new trail system or even a new trail section may take months, or even years to see it to fruition. It takes only seconds and a stroke of a pen to kill a trail forever. The causes of the trails demise are plentiful. Circumstances such as infrastructure repair or replacement, negative environmental impact, land development, and other factors are somewhat anticipated. But there are also other factors that can be totally avoided. These are the causes that I really want to address.
Trail Closed — Reasons Why!
I recently interviewed several landowners who have graciously allowed us to have access to their land over the years. That is, until those landowners finally decided to pull the plug on allowing us use of their land. For privacy reasons I have not divulged their names or trail systems involved, but they represent a cross section of more than 6,500 miles of trail systems in our state.
Remember, roughly 50 percent of our trails are on private property, 25 percent are on state-owned land, and another 25 percent are on federal land. Some trail areas rely on nearly 100 percent of private land for snowmobiling. If a landowner decides to close his land to snowmobiling, it can be devastating to that community.
Here are just a few quotes from landowners who once allowed snowmobiling on their property:
“I have tried to be patient over the last several years. The trail signs clearly say to stay on the trail. I have even put up my own orange mesh fencing to keep the sleds out of my tree farm. The snowmobiles are constantly running over my new saplings, and I finally had enough. When a sign or fence doesn’t stop them, I don’t think anything will.”
“I own a campground, and the trail ran on my property line for about a quarter mile. When I returned in the spring, every year I constantly had to replace broken faucets that had been run over and broken. Most of these posts and pipes were 100 to 200 yards away from the trail! My restrooms were vandalized. It looks like they even used a couple of my picnic tables to make a jump last winter. I know those responsible don’t represent the entire snowmobile community, but I simply don’t have the time and money to keep fixing things around here. I made the tough decision to pull my lease, and I don’t have nearly the issues I had before.”
“My wife and I own a bread and breakfast inn. Our guests enjoy our home because of the remoteness and beautiful setting that we have here. I have always been a snowmobiler myself and have allowed a section of trail to cross over my property rather than ride along the frontage roadway that is about a half a mile or so from our inn. The loud pipes seem to be getting worse. At 12:30 a.m., that’s the last thing I or my guests want to hear. I had to make a tough decision and post my property prohibiting snowmobiles. Now at least they are a half-mile away, and we can sleep at night.”
“Our department’s engineer recently deemed a bridge unfit for the groomer and snowmobile traffic. We are in the process of finding an alternate route along a roadside, but this may be an issue due to the pavement being recently resurfaced. A temporary bridge has been suggested, and our engineering department is looking at the feasibility. Until this situation is resolved, the trail is closed. We are in the process of trying to come up with a reroute.”
How Can You Help Keep Trails Open?
When a club or snowmobile council has worked so hard for so many years to develop, promote, maintain and enjoy a trail system, it is heart breaking to see it disappear forever. The businesses along these routes really depend on snowmobiling for their lively hood in, many cases. I’m sure we have all seen smaller gas stations, convenience stores, restaurant/bars, and even motels close when the trails are no longer next to them. It’s hard enough when the snowfall totals don’t cooperate, let alone the trails get moved or eliminated completely!
So, what can you and I do? Well, first of all — stay on the trail yourself unless otherwise posted, and always encourage others to do the same. I enjoy riding the back country as much as anyone, but there is a time and a place. If you don’t know –don’t go! Talking to other riders who have loud pipes and are obviously trespassing can be touchy. I have found it best to introduce myself first, ask them if they are a member of MSA or have even heard of MSA, and then politely coach or educate them on the consequences of riding off trail. I have found that when I’m non-confrontational with them, they are willing to listen. Sometimes however, it’s best to let law enforcement deal with the situation, especially if the individual(s) is intoxicated.
Consequences for Breaking the Law
It is also the responsibility of our Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and local law enforcement agencies. I think part of the problem is that their presence is not visible in most cases. There are many reasons for this, usually there is a lack of resources and funding to patrol these trail systems. I personally have always welcomed these officers on the trail and make it a point to stop and chat with them.
Another reason why we continue to have these issues is because there are very little consequences for breaking the law. The laws vary and the penalties are really not a deterrent. When the monetary fine for not having a trail permit is the same as a new trail permit, where is the deterrent? There are mindsets out there that don’t feel that they need to buy a trail permit, can have illegal decibel aftermarket pipes, and ride whenever and wherever they feel like it. After all, they are “entitled” to ride as they see fit.
As we move into the New Year, it is really up to all of us to make sure that the area that we are riding in is protected and preserved. As you groom, sign and brush, or even ride this winter, thank the landowner if you have a chance by slowing down and waving, or even stopping and introducing yourself. Remember, you are a salesperson who is trying to make a future sale — the opportunity to ride through the area once again someday!
TODAY IS THE DAY TO JOIN!
Call in! 616/361-2285 Mail In! 4543 Division Ave S Wyoming Mi 49548 or Join on the website at www.msasnow.org
25.00 gets you a 1yr membership to MSA!
GIVE US A TRY! SEE THE GOOD THINGS WE CAN DO TOGETHER!
You can find more of our history at The history of MSA
Ed Klim talks about FOSPAC! (Friends of Snowmobiling Political Action Committee)
Make MSA Your Charity of Choice! The Future of Snowmobiling in Michigan Depends on it!