New Year –New Challenges

January/February 2018

Greetings MSA friends and Happy New Year! About this time of year, I always try to look back on the previous year and mentally inventory all of my accomplishments. I also analyze the many more of my unfulfilled challenges, that I again bring into this New Year.

As we all said goodbye to 2017 and welcomed 2018, many of us are hopeful for a new beginning. It’s like that feeling of looking at old snowfall that has become dirty and stained by life, and then suddenly a fresh new blanket of snow arrives and makes us feel clean and refreshed again. I hope you all had a good year last year, but if life dealt you a bad hand and you couldn’t see light at the end of the tunnel at times, be encouraged because a new blanket of snow is upon us!

For those of us active in MSA, either as officers, board of directors, executive committee members, or any of the other organized clubs, councils and committee members, we all look back at times to help us plan for the future. Setting goals for the New Year helps us all to set our eyes on our targets. Only time will tell how many bull’s-eyes we hit. As my dad once told me, “If you don’t have a goal or a target to shoot at, how will you ever know if you hit it?”

At the risk of omitting some of the important tasks facing us this year, I have jotted down several bullet points that I’d like to see MSA accomplish this year and into the near future. These are NOT in any particular order and only reflect what’s on my limited mind as I write this.

  • Increase MSA membership, especially with the younger generation.
  • Provide our members with the benefits, services, and information that they need and deserve at a reasonable and sustainable annual fee.
  • Continue to work closely with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and U.S. Forest officials to manage our snowmobile trails effectively. as other interest groups gain in popularity and share “our” spaces.
  • Provide designated free-riding spaces and/or boondocking areas throughout our state to attract the newer generation of snowmobiles and riders.
  • To secure funding and resources for new groomer equipment and continue to utilize our financial resources effectively on maintaining our current fleet.

Prepare for the upcoming 2019 International Snowmobile Congress (ISC) in Grand Rapids.

  • Strengthen MSA relationships with Michigan’s dealers, retailers, lodging providers, and rebuild relationships that have become strained over the years.
  • Continue to be good stewarts with our financial resources and to manage our annual budget with restraint and transparency.
  • Reduce and eliminate the number of serious injuries and fatalities on our trail systems, due to alcohol and excessive speeds. Promote the Zero Tolerance campaign.
  • Work with our state officials to enforce decibel sound violations and trespassing issues that continue to close portions of our trail system.
  • Provide our MSA member’s family- based recreational activities, both in the winter months and other seasons of the year.
  • To continue to educate our city, state, and federal officials on the financial and beneficial impact that snowmobiling has on our state and elsewhere.
  • To provide useful and pertinent information to our members through social media, scheduled meetings, and other venues.
  • Continue to evaluate the Michigan Snowmobile News and to upgrade our magazines appearance and content. Work to deliver each issue in a timely manner in the future.
  • Involve all ages and riding styles of snowmobilers in decision-making activities, keeping an open mind, and “thinking outside of the box.”
  • Continue to guide and support the MSA management and officers in the future by offering suggestions and positive feedback, when appropriate. Provide constructive criticism and solution-based comments when warranted.

What Are Your Goals for MSA?

The list certainly could go on and on. That’s just what’s in my head at the moment. As soon as I send this to the publisher for proofing, I’ll remember a dozen or more points! I do know however, from experience, that the goal line or target somehow can move around a bit. That’s why we all must be flexible, and be willing to compromise sometimes — so that that other goals can get accomplished. I would be grateful if I could hear from you!

When you get a moment, send me an email letting me know what you think our goals and priorities should be this upcoming year. If you’d like, put them in order of preference. I would value your opinion, and will use it in upcoming planning meetings.

Remember Rider Responsibility

Before I say goodbye until next time, I’d like to close with a reminder and a request. Remember, sleds that have higher horsepower and off-trail capabilities, also come with rider responsibility. We have already had one too many fatalities this season. Speed was a contributing factor. I recently saw a Go Pro video of a rider at high speed crest the top of a hill traveling left of center. The oncoming rider didn’t have a chance and was struck head on. The footage was graphic and this was an accident that was totally avoidable. This should NEVER happen and the actions of a negligent rider changed the life of an innocent victim forever.

I have been out West in Utah and Idaho riding the backcountry a couple of times. It was truly one of the greatest thrills of my life. I know firsthand the temptation of leaving a groomed trail and cutting across deep virgin snow here in Michigan. There are few open areas that are legal to ride in Michigan, and I wish there were more. As I mentioned before, the leaders in MSA, clubs and councils need to recognize and embrace this challenge in the future and work with our city, state and federal regulators to provide these added recreational areas. Until then, we must also preserve and protect what we have already fought for and have been provided with and ride responsibly for everyone’s benefit and enjoyment. Please use restraint and follow the rules! MSA members, we must also lead by example and educate when the opportunity presents itself.

Together as we all face the New Year ahead. It’s my hope that we can all come together with common goals and get many things accomplished this year. Every month is valuable and there is much to be done. I am optimistic that about this time next year, the new MSA president will have many bull’s-eyes to report because we all came together for our common goal. Thank you in advance for your contributions this upcoming year and being for being a faithful MSA supporter.

Happy New Year!