All Polk county snowmobile trails are closed.
THE HARD TRUTH ABOUT OFF-TRAIL RIDING
By: Mark Lester, Photo By: Mike Lester
It looks like snocross racing has been supplanted as the identity of choice by the image of the deep snow freerider.
Iconic names like Haikonen, Morgan and Hibbert for two decades have given way to powder slaying, cornice jumping images of Chris Burandt, Carl Kuster, Dave McClure, Rob Kincaid and many others. More important, in showrooms the sought-after image of snocross sleds is increasingly shifting to deep-snow sleds.
Proof positive are comments coming from the OEMs indicating the sale of crossover and mountain sleds is the growth market in the snowmobile industry right now.
We would not dispute this assertion. Our contact with you, our readers, and Snowtrax Television viewers indicates not just a passing interest in off-trail riding but a determined desire to rip-up powder, ride without boundaries and generally go wherever you choose.
Although we’re not against this new, tweaked definition of snowmobiling, we must clearly state this reality: If snowmobiling keeps redefining itself away from groomed trail riding – and I’m speaking about flatland freeriding here – there’s going to be a huge price to be paid.
Sure, it’s great the OEMs are recording sales increases in deep snow, longer tracked crossover rides; I get that. However, there has to be a visible, coordinated move to educate these buyers their new way to participate has boundaries and subsequently, rules. If this doesn’t happen soon, we’re in for big trouble!
So, overall, this is good, right? I mean more sleds sold means more participants, more tourism impact, more justification for our sport’s continued acceptance and support by government and thus more monetary support for snowmobiling. This is correct thinking, right?
Honestly, I’m less sure about the above rationale than I’ve ever been. I’m concerned things are getting out of control. We attend all the big US consumer shows every fall and this year I was overwhelmed by the increase in people we spoke with who are buying sleds with the intent to use them off-trail in flatland, trail-based territory.
Like I said, I’m all about more participation and expansion. However, I’m becoming increasingly concerned about the consequences of this re-imagined type of riding.
You’ve likely heard, just like we have, about trail closures from sleds wandering off the prescribed signed and marked routes. Landowners are the backbone of North America’s state and provincial groomed trail systems. The desire to freeride using these trails as a springboard to “get to the pow” runs 180-degrees counter to the original idea behind groomed trails.
Therein lies the problem. This growing desire to ride deep-snow-capable sleds in deep snow has to be subject to some rules. Moreover, this new movement needs tourism destinations and riding locales to step up and recommend terrain and areas where this kind of riding can legally and considerately take place.
Those who build, maintain and groom our valuable trail systems can no longer just get angry at off-trail riders, because they’re most certainly not going away.
In fact, it appears these participants are going to grow again in numbers this winter. There has to be some solutions and some give-and-take in an effort to get this new genre of riding under the wing of established trail sanctioning groups.
One more thing: It’s probably time for the OEMs to step up with some ideas aimed at preserving the amazing access we enjoy to public and private land. As the main benefactors of the explosion in popularity of deep snow sleds, the manufacturers need, at the very least, to participate in and ideally help direct this conversation as well.
It’s time to get talking constructively about this no longer “emerging” but rather, ever-increasing fraternity of snowmobilers who see things differently than the status quo.
On 12-18-2018 our club had 14 volunteers cleared more of the Stower Trail. The club has now cleared 9 miles of trail with the help of more them 36 volunteers and over 144 volunteer hours donated to trail clean up to date. Great job and thanks to our awesome volunteers. Below are some of the pictures of the clean up effort.
Wisconsin Snowmobile Safety Certification is required for any snowmobile operator born since January 1st, 1985. The Wisconsin DNR is sponsoring a snowmobile safety certification course in Osceola in October. It’s being held at Osceola High School on Oct 23 and 26th from 6:30pm – 9:00pm. Parents are encouraged to participate with their children 12 years or older. Cost is $10. For more information and to sign up, contact Duane Wolter at 715-755-3599.
For other course offerings, go to the DNR website at https://gowild.wi.gov/customers/safetyedclass
OSCEOLA VALLEY SNO-GOERS
President: Eric Hallen (2017) Vice President: Rick M (2018)
Secretary: Stephanie Harling (2017), Treasurer: Sheri Hoiby (2018)
Board of Directors: Barb Durand (2018) Rick Leroux (2017) Charlie Greener (2017) Jeff Jonas (2017)
Trail Bosses: West: Gordy Jones (2017), East: Kirk Larson (2017), Dresser trail: Ken Meyer(2017)
Council Reps: Mike Tober, Ken Meyer (Alternates: Dave Peterson)
The February meeting was called to order by President Eric Hallen.
The Secretaries report was read and approved
The Treasurer Report was read and approved.
Al and Maria got Friday May 19th reserved at Wandroos for our club party. There were no Saturdays available. However, after further discussion, we realized that was Osceola’s graduation, so they are going to see if they can move it to the Friday before, or any Saturday that is open before that date. Perhaps look at April 29 th , 2017.
The website is up, and he will be posting the minutes. He could use pictures if anyone has some to share. The website is Osceolavalleysnogoers@gmail.com – this will go directly to Al.
Kenny reported that the Youth Silent auction in March for the convention is looking for donations. We donate $150.00 each year to the Youth Group, and feel they need to take some of that money to buy something for the silent auction.
Please turn in any worksheets as soon as possible.
A snowmobile hit a tree that was down by our shelter, but was not hurt. This tree was taken care of as soon as we found out about it being down, but the snowmobile hit it before we could get out there.
Amery club built a roller out of an old culvert and is trying it out.
The Amery club is having a poker run that starts on 2/18/17 and will run thru 3 consecutive weekends.
All tractors will be serviced at the groomer shack and not at the dealer unless prior approved.
There is a calendar for sale by council.
All fuel barrels will be on wheels so that the council can bring them up to the cattail to use for the groomer up there during the summer.
Corn is off on 60th St, but because of no snow we are not going to sign it.
The safari is canceled due to lack of snow. Right now you have to go North and East to find snow. Trego, web lake area, as well as Gordon and Hayward was good.
The overnighter is scheduled for Feb 17 th , 2017 there is 4 rooms booked if anyone still wants to use them at the Danbury Casino. 1 smoking and 3 non smoking.
The Meat Raffle was a success. We made $551.00 after expenses. We did 10 rounds of meat, and 10 rounds of drinks and a 50/50 cash drawing. Thanks to all who helped.
Eric received a nice letter from the Military ride thanking us for our donation. The Veterans’ ride will be posted in the Wisconsin magazine, and we will be listed as a sponsor.
Fair Committee – we will need a covered trailer to use temporarily to put the things into from the stand while we do the recovering of the floor. We also need to look for options for a grill, and perhaps look at a catering type of grill.
Landowners Dinner is set for April 8 th . Anyone wanting to be on the committee, please let Julie know. We will be having a meeting soon. Al will take care of getting a donation from Polaris again. A motion was made and passed to up our donations for the Landowners gift from $10.00 to $30.00 this year. This will be sent out with our invitations.
Trail Clean up is set for Saturday April 1 st , 2017
We are looking for members to perhaps take over a section of trail that is close to where they live. You would be responsible for putting the signs up, and taking them down and any cleaning that would need to be done. This would narrow down the large sections that need to be done, if everyone could take a mile or two or a section. See Kirk for this.
AWSC 48 th annual convention is in Milwaukee this year, March 24-26 th , 2017. The club gives $100 per couple to go to help cover the room expense. Al will put this information on the website for anyone wanting more information. There is a voting form for our club to vote, if no one is going, we need to send in the absentee ballot. It will be at the Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee, WI.
Rick will talk to Scott Carlson to see if the crop reimbursement is the same of if that has changed at all.
Next meeting is Tues. March 7 th , at Tippy Canoes at 7:30.