MSA News & Snowmobiling Issues
Posted:Landowner Awards Presented
Landowner Awards Presented
Issues in the Sport
Trail sign changes
Snowmobile Program Report Presented
Snowmobile Trail funding survey
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has honored seven landowners from across the state for their generosity in providing the public access for outdoor recreation. The annual Landowner of the Year Awards were presented October 21 at the Augusta Civic Center. The program was hosted by the MSA in cooperation with the Landowner and Sportsmen Relations Advisory Board and preceded the October meeting of MSA directors.
Among those present to offer their congratulations to the landowners were IF&W Commissioner Chandler Woodcock and DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb.
Awards were presented by Rick Laflamme, Landowner Relations specialist for the state of Maine, assisted by Heather Rodrigue.
Recipients of the Landowner-of the Year Awards are:
Private Landowner - 100 Acres or More:
Stephen and Diana Hobart, Blanchard - Nominated by the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District
Alan and Sandra Dorr, Hermon, Levant, Winterport - Nominated by the Penobscot Snowmobile Club
Jack and Jessica Dixon, Dixmont - Nominated by the Dixmont Gold Crest Riders Snowmobile Club
John Willard, Rockwood and Tomhegan Twp - Nominated by the Maine Warden Service
Conservation Landowner: Downeast Lakes Land Trust, Grand Lake Stream - Nominated by the Maine Professional Guides Association
Corporate Landowner: Irving Woodlands LLC, Fort Kent - Nominated by Can Am Crown
Public Landowner: Town of Falmouth - Nominated by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine
Issues in the Sport
The last of four public meetings on the management of state-maintained snowmobile trails will take place on Thursday, November 20 at 6:30 pm at the Airline Snack Bar on Route 9 in Beddington. The meeting will focus on the largest of the state-maintained projects which stretches across 47 miles in Eastern Maine. Previously, public meetings have been held in Belmont, Stoneham and Farmington about the other three snowmobile projects that are maintained by the state.
The meetings are one of several recommendations issued in a report that was presented last January to the Legislature as a result of LD-505, a Resolve presented by the MSA directing the Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to conduct an internal review of the Snowmobile Program and make recommendation on how the Program might be operated in a more efficient and transparent manner.
The goal of the study and these meetings is to increase the efficiency of the program and reduce costs in the hopes the savings can be passed along to clubs through the club and municipal grant programs. The state-maintained trails generally cost in excess of $1,000 per mile to maintain, which is well above even the most expensive municipal projects. The response from locals club to date has been fairly positive, with clubs looking at taking on the state trails provided they are appropriately reimbursed through the grant program. The deadline for the conversion of the trails is the 2015-16 season.
The Snowmobile Trail Fund Advisory Council met in mid-October to finalize draft language for both the Capital Equipment Grant program and a new "disaster relief" supplement grant program to assist clubs that are faced with serious, expensive work as a result of some kind of natural disaster.
The disaster relief program will be funded by money from the carry-over account, which is excess dollars left over at the end of the season after grants have been paid. The revised Capital Equipment Grant program, which is funded by $5 from each snowmobile registration, will feature a pre-approval process with points awarded for a variety of criteria. The goal of the revision is to manage purchases and ensure that funds will be available for 40% of a qualifying purchase. A recent analysis of the Capital Equipment Grant by the MSA show that in the fourteen years the program has been running, only ten clubs have accounted for 20% of the total equipment purchased, and twenty clubs have accounted for 30% of purchases. It is hoped that the new program will level the playing field, and make grants available for clubs that are truly in need.
The final drafts of both rules are in process and there will be a public comment session on both rules before they are implemented.
Trail Sign Changes
The State of Maine Snowmobile Program will be reducing the number of trail signs distributed to clubs this year. An announcement from the Program states:
"Most trails are on private land and this move is being made to cooperate with landowners, reduce the cost of trails, help the declining number of trail maintenance volunteers, and follow the International Guidelines for minimal snowmobile trail signing. Snowmobilers, you should ride the conditions you see ahead of you at all times, using caution and taking responsibility for your safety by driving at reasonable speeds for the conditions you see ahead. Join a club where you ride and help support the quality trails we all enjoy."
Snowmobile Program Report Presented
The Report of the Internal Review of the Snowmobile Program by Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb, was presented to the Legislature's ACF Committee in early January. This study was initiated as a result of legislation introduced by the MSA last winter. We believe that the report and recommendations will help increase transparency and equity within the program and help clubs statewide as we move forward. View the report.
Report of the Snowmobile Trail Funding Survey:
This is the report on the results of the Snowmobile Trail Grooming Funding Survey that was undertaken in the winter and spring of 2011 by Dr. Stephen Reiling of the University of Maine Orono in conjunction with the MSA Trails Committee. The study was funded as part of the MSA Trails Committee contract with the Department of Conservation this past season. There was a great response from clubs and municipal projects across the state, and the results are interesting reading - see what folks think here:Click here to view the report.
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