2017-01-05 / Front Page

Snowmobile Clubs Make Season Plans

Consortium May Be Formed by EUPRPDC
By Stephen King

A short portion of snowmobile Trail 472, just west of Kinross, will be closed for the season after a grooming machine became submerged in a peat moss swamp. This incident was among those discussed when the Eastern U.P. Snowmobile Council (EUPSC) met Wednesday, December 21, at Hulbert. The council consists of representatives from most of the snowmobile clubs and organizations that groom the snowmobile trails in the Eastern U.P. For many decades, they have served as a conduit of information among members, the Department of Natural Resources, and the general public. EUPSC President Stu Volker is also the president of the Les Cheneaux Snowmobile Club.

Sault Snowmobile Association President Martin Cottle reported that progress was being made to free the groomer stuck in the swamp, along with a piece of equipment they were attempting to use to free the groomer. All pieces of equipment, he said, were expected to be recovered soon. This portion of trail will be closed for the remainder of the season, with a short reroute in that area.

Paul Gaberdale said, “We’re often in a no-win situation at this time of year. As soon as it starts to snow, everyone — snowmobilers and businesses alike — are after us to start grooming. We tell the clubs to use their best judgment, and the groomer operators do, usually with good results. However, from time to time, things like this happen. There’s no real getting around it.”

In this situation, the problem happened over a peat bog. Peat bogs are the remnants of old lakes. Over thousands of years, these have filled in with both live and decaying vegetation. Often, there is a thick mat of this peat. Usually, it can hold quite a bit of weight, even sometimes as much as a groomer, however, from time to time equipment or vehicles can break through. This is what happened.

It was noted that the recent “Snowmobile the Mighty Mack” event at St. Ignace went well, with 35 participants. Members from the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum in Naubinway, who organized the event along with the St. Ignace Events Committee, are already looking forward to next year’s ride.

It was brought to the attention of the group that the EUP Regional Planning and Development Commission is starting a group regarding trails and the first meeting is to be in February. The proposal, said Ellen Benoit of the agency, is to form a consortium of interested people to talk about what’s happening in the region and how to promote all types of trails and collaborate on projects. It will be open to the public. A meeting is tentatively set for Tuesday, February 28, at lunch time in Sault Ste. Marie. To register to attend, call Ms. Benoit at (906) 635-1581. Time, date, and place will be announced soon.

The snowmobile council has a positive balance of just over $9,000. With this, it was decided that, next month, the council would again make annual donations to the Sheriff’s Offices of the five eastern counties in the U.P. The money is raised through the sale of maps that the group produces and sells locally, and membership dues.

Drummond Island representative of the council Cindy Hammer announced that she was appointed for a two-year term on the DNR’s Snowmobile Advisory Workgroup.

The council is always looking for new members. The dues are $100 for organizations, $20 for businesses, and $10 for individuals. The group may be contacted through its Web site www.upsnowmobiling.org.

The Michigan Snowmobile Association annual “Ride In” will take place in Grayling this year on the weekend of Friday, February 10 and Saturday, February11.

A Groomer Workshop will take place in Sault Ste. Marie this year Thursday, March 2 to Saturday, March 4. The make up of these workshops will change to more of a seminar format to provide attendees with a greater chance to learn about groomers and grooming.

The next meeting of the EUPSC will take place in Hulbert Wednesday, January 18.

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