No snow means drop in N.H. snowmobile registrations
December 19, 2006 (Boston.com local news)
PITTSBURG, N.H. --Thanks to warm temperatures and a scarcity of snow, the number of snowmobile registrations is down from last year's total of about 60,000.
"It's been so warm that the ground hasn't started to freeze," said Bernie Ross, president of the Umbagog Snowmobile Association in Errol. "We need snow and lots of it, but we need some cold, too, to freeze up the streams and open areas where there is still water."
Last week, the state released $1.4 million in grant funding from registration fees to snowmobile clubs for trail grooming and maintenance. But so far, there's no snow to groom on the more than 7,000 miles of trails in the state.
The lack of snow and snowmobilers is hurting northern towns dependent on tourism dollars, including Pittsburg, Errol, Colebrook, Lancaster and Berlin. Last year there was very little snow all winter, compounding fears about the upcoming season.
"Registrations were down last year," said Fish and Game Maj. Tim Acerno. "So far this year, we're down 10,000 to 15,000 and I've never seen that much of a drop in one year."
Some years, more than 75,000 people have registered snow machines. This year, licenses cost $48 for a state resident who joins a snowmobile club up to $93 for non-residents who do not join a club.
Christmas vacation is a critical time for businesses dependent on snowmobilers and skiers. But people make reservations ahead of time, so snow before the holiday is important to attracting visitors.
"We're getting some cancellations," said Paul Bergeron, president of the Pittsburg Ridge Runners snowmobile club and owner of Ramblewood Lodge and Cabins on First Lake. "People are watching the weather and we do have a waiting list for those cancellations, but if there's no snow, everyone will take a big licking."
Still, there's hope for a change in the weather. Last year, the North Country got a big snowfall just hours before Christmas.
"It's still early," Ross said. "We're optimistic. People get the urge after Christmas to ride and they look forward to the snowmobile season."
Shingleton, December 19Plans To Re-Route Snowmobile Trail Angers Community
A snowmobile trail in Alger County will remain open this winter, the county road commission announced at its meeting last night. The commission wanted to re-route trail number 8 away from H-15, because of the damage the machines were causing the road.
The detour would also bypass Shingleton. Business owners were ready for a fight, because they only heard about this last week, and snowmobile traffic accounts for a large portion of their revenue.
The road commission says it will eventually re-route the trail, but will work with Shingleton businesses when doing so.
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