Lobbying Efforts Begin to Show a Return on Investment

January/February 2018

In the past issues of the Michigan Snowmobile News, we talked about snowmobiling’s Return on Investment (ROI) in terms of what snowmobilers pay to recreate and the return the state receives in tourism dollars. We talked about the fact that snowmobilers pay to play, while the snowmobile program doesn’t receive any general fund dollars from the state. Snowmobilers were not receiving a ROI on what they were paying to snowmobile. MSA is pleased to announce that by lobbying our legislators, we have received our first ROI.

Last fall, MSA meet with officials from the governor’s office, and asked for several million dollars in general fund appropriations for the snowmobile program. We managed to get one line item for $226,200 allocated in the budget. It  was later announced that the governor had vetoed 51 general fund line items, ours being one of them.

In early November, we found out that at the last minute, the governor must have changed his mind. The snowmobile program was allocated $226,200. The important thing to remember is this is the first time the snowmobile program has ever received general fund dollars. The lobbying that was done with our legislators during meetings and legislative rides, paid off.

Since finding out that this money was allocated, the Snowmobile Advisory Workgroup (SAW) recommended that the funds be used to maintain trails. The funds are being used out on the trails to repair culvert and bridges.

In continuing their lobbying efforts, MSA plans to go back to key state appropriations legislators again this year and ask to see a ROI on you – the snowmobiler’s investment. We hope this is just the first year, and sets a precedent, for the state snowmobile program and the appropriation of general fund dollars.

Snowmobiling’s Return on Investment (ROI)

Just what is a Return on Investment (ROI) when discussing snowmobiling and tourism in Michigan. The following is how several MSA officials explained. The ROI on every snowmobilers investment into the sport.

Our state legislature has put $32 million of our tax dollars to the Pure Michigan tourism campaign. These tax dollars are being used to promote tourism in our state. State officials say that they are doing this because of the campaign’s ROI of those tax dollars. Statistics from Pure Michigan show that for every $1 spent promoting Michigan through Pure Michigan, $7 comes back to the state in terms of goods and services purchased.

Pure Michigan is bringing people into Michigan to enjoy our resources and this helps our economy. People spend their money here and their ROI is that they enjoy themselves and the activity they are participating in. Pure Michigan encompasses all tourism including snowmobiling, biking, camping, taking a color tour, enjoying our Great Lakes and many other activities.

Time for a Partnership With Tourism

The state doesn’t put any money into the snowmobile program. No general fund dollars are put into the program and Pure Michigan doesn’t put any of that $32 million into the snowmobile program.

They are not paying their ROI to the snowmobile program.  In a 2009 Michigan State University study on the economic impact of snowmobiling in Michigan it stated that our sport has more than a $500 million economic impact on this state. Keep in mind that in 2009 we were in the midst of a recession, so that half a billion dollar number is probably low.

Let’s consider some facts. Out of their own pockets snowmobilers purchase trail permits to fund the snowmobile program. That number is nearly $6 million. The snowmobile program also receives another $2 million from a small return of YOUR gasoline tax. YOU paid this tax. This means that snowmobilers pay $8 million to self fund the snowmobile program. WE pay to play.

Let’s now take what snowmobilers pay out of pocket and divide that $8 million number into snowmobiling’s economic impact on this state — $500 million.

The ROI this state receives on YOUR investment is $62.50 for every $1 YOU the snowmobiler puts into YOUR sport.

So,  for every tax $1 spent by YOU on Pure Michigan, the state sees a ROI of $7. The ROI the state realizes on every dollar YOU the snowmobiler spends is $62.50. The state funds Pure Michigan because it sees an average $7 ROI of every dollar spent, and snowmobiling provides a $62.50 ROI for every dollar WE spend.

Another First in Motorized Recreation

In December, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board recommended $40.3 million in grant recommendations for outdoor recreation development and land acquisition projects to the Michigan State Legislature. Those projects include $2,038,600 in snowmobile-related projects.

What makes this noteworthy is this is the first time that the Michigan Snowmobile Association (MSA) has worked with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Parks and Recreation Division to help them produce a list of projects that they could include to help motorized recreation. When the DNR applies no match a local municipality is needed.

MSA wishes to thank State Sen. Tom Casperson (R-38th District) and State Sen. Darwin Booher (R-35th District) for their diligence in convincing the Trust Fund Board that the motorized community brings millions of dollars into the state coffers and deserves to be included in grants that typically have gone to communities for non-motorized recreation opportunities.

Remember the Natural Resources Trust Fund board manages the money that is taken in from royalties on the sale of gas, oil, and mineral rights on state owned property. This funding will support a variety of outdoor recreation improvements including: expanded public access at popular fishing destinations, additional snowmobile and multiuse trail easements that give users broader access to more trails, facility and playground improvements at urban parks,  planning and construction for new trails and connectors, trail-resurfacing projects; and wildlife and habitat enhancement projects.

“The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund has a proven record of supporting expanded opportunities for more Michiganders and tourists to experience quality public outdoor recreation,” said Gov. Rick Snyder. “This year’s recommendations could help improve the quality of life in a very Pure Michigan way.”

The board recommended a total of $40.3 million for projects in 2018, including $19 million in recreation development and $21.3 million in land acquisition projects.

Of the $21.3 million recommended to fund acquisition projects, $12.3 million would be awarded to local units of government, while the remaining $9 million would be awarded to the DNR. Of the $19 million recommended to fund development grants, $15.2 million would support 72 local government projects and $3.8 million would support 17 DNR projects.

The board considered a total of 166 applications seeking $76.1 million in funding. In a competitive process, all eligible applications were evaluated on scoring criteria developed by the board.

“Every Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant has a direct, positive impact on healthier lifestyles, outdoor recreation opportunities and regional economies,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “The Trust Fund is a unique Michigan model, and we’re excited about the many benefits it will bring to Michigan communities for decades to come.”

The board’s recommendations will go to the state Legislature for review as part of the appropriations process. Upon approval, the Legislature will forward a bill to the governor for his signature.

Acquisition: 2017-18

Snowmobile Related $928,600

  1. Ludington SP Sargent Minerals Company Property – $5,000,000
  2. Fisherman’s Island SP Holody Property – $350,000
  3. Iron Belle Trail Lake State Railroad Property – $850,000
  4. Snowmobile Trail 109 Trail Easements – $56,200
  5. Longyear Permanent Trail Easement – $340,000
  6. Former Canadian Pacific Railroad Property – $193,900
  7. GMO Permanent Trail Easement – $49,200
  8. Weyerhaueser Permanent Trail Easement – $206,800
  9. Snowmobile Trail #3 Permanent Trail Easements – $82,500

Development: 2017-18           

Snowmobile Related $1,110,000

  1. Belle Isle Oxbow Shoreline Fishing Area – $300,000
  2. Riverfront Park Observation Trail Development Phase 2 – $300,000
  3. Petoskey SP Little Traverse Wheelway Reroute – $300,000
  4. Muskegon Winter Sports Complex Zipline and Lift – $300,000
  5. Belle Isle Scott Fountain Accessibility Improvements – $300,000
  6. Baraga to Arnheim Trail Rehabiliation and Bridge – $300,000
  7. White Pine Trail Paving – $300,000
  8. Snowmobile Trail 8 Bridge Development – $210,000
  9. Iron Belle Trail Bissell Creek Culvert Replacement – $100,000
  10. Sunken Lake Bridge Replacement – $300,000
  11. Gaylord Gateway Trailhead Development – $300,000
  12. Hancock to Calumet Culvert Replacement – $300,000

Projects NOT selected for funding:

Island Lake RA Regional Trail Development Phase 1 – $300,000

North Missaukee Trail Bridge Development – $300,000

Holly RA Multi-use Trail Development Phase 1 – $300,000

Snowmobile Trail 2 Bear Creek Swamp Trail Repair – $80,000

Continuing the Legislative Work

While MSA is proud of the work and accomplishments we have made on the legislative front, we also know how important it is to set goals for the future. The following is a list of legislative goals we will be discussing with our legislators in 2018. Some of the items on the following list are goals set several years ago and were not achieved, and some of the goals are new because of the changes we are seeing in motorized recreation. We will continue to work on these goals, and in time, know that MSA’s lobbying efforts will pay off.

  • Establish into law the Snowmobile Advisory Workgroup (SAW), a subcommittee of the Michigan Trails Advisory Committee.
  • Firm up the definition of a snowmobile, with all of the aftermarket add-ons to ATVs, motorcycles, and 4×4 trucks; we need to restrict the width and give law enforcement officers the tools to keep our trails safe.

The current law reads: “Snowmobile” means any motor-driven vehicle designed for travel primarily on snow or ice of a type that utilizes sled-type runners or skis, 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 proposal reads:

“Snowmobile” means a vehicle that meets all of the following requirements:

Is Engine-Driven, has an endless belt tread, was originally manufactured solely for operation over snow, is steered by 2 sled-type runners or skis in contact with the snow, the distance between the centers of the spindles of which, except in the case of a Historic Snowmobile, is not more than 48 inches. Snowmobile does not include any of the following: An ORV required to be licensed under section 81115, A vehicle required to be registered under the Michigan vehicle code, PA 300, MCL 257.1 to 257.923.”

  • Look at the Historic Snowmobile section of the snowmobile law (fix the date to be stationary) and change in “Definitions” from 25 years old to manufactured before 1993.
  • Restrict wheeled vehicles from “Marked Groomed Snowmobile Trails” between Dec. 1 and March 31. This is for snowmobilers safety and the safety of others, as well as to prevent the damage to the groomed surface during this time period.
  • Update standard sound test update. The manufacturers have updated the original test.
  • Increase the amount of the fine for no trail permit.
  • Look at fines in all of snowmobile act as well as which are misdemeanors and which are civil infractions.

Rest assured your MSA will continue to work on legislation that is best for snowmobiling. The discussion of trail permit fees is ongoing. MSA will continue to take a hard look at what is best for the snowmobile program, and what we need to do to continue Michigan’s first class program.