GRAND MARAIS, MN.
Snowmobile Club could lose some funding Asks for letter of support from countyCook County News-HeraldLast Updated: Thursday, December 21st, 2006 09:15:58 PMBill NeilStaff writerRepresentatives of the Cook County Snowmobile Club asked the county board Tuesday for a letter of support to block a proposed state change in funding for trail maintenance which they said would be “devastating” if approved.
Kevin Mackey and Harley Toftey presented information on a proposed change in funding by the state Department of Natural Resources that is scheduled to take effect in 2008. Toftey said the new formula — which is based on the number of miles in each region, rather than on the number of hours spent grooming the trails — “wouldn’t work well for us.”
That’s because Cook County and northern Minnesota experience an average of 80-90 days per winter with a snow pack of 12 or more inches, thus requiring more time and money for grooming and maintenance than places in the southern part of the state with less snow and less frequent snowfalls.
Harley said the loss of funding would amount to a 50 percent reduction in the budget, and be devastating for the club and local snowmobilers.
He estimated that the club’s annual maintenance expenses for about 107 miles of trails are roughly $40,000 in fixed costs plus other variables such as labor and fuel that total over $100,000. If the new funding cuts occur, the state reimbursement would drop to about $60,000.
In order to compensate for the loss, Toftey said the club would probably have to sell two or three of its four snowcats (machines used for grooming the trails), and thus there would be far less grooming done on the trails.
Paradoxically, Toftey said the problem really isn’t lack of money. Based on information he has received from state officials, Toftey said there is “plenty of money” available for snowmobile-related projects — the problem is how the money would be allocated should the new formula go into effect.
Toftey and Mackey asked the board to write a letter opposing the change, and send it to the county’s state representatives and DNR decision-makers.
The board voted to send the letter in time for a DNR Trailways meeting to be held Dec. 27 in Two Harbors.
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