Through the efforts of snowmobile volunteers across the state, Minnesotans and visitors alike enjoy over 22,000 miles of groomed snowmobile trails. The maintenance of approximately 96% of these trails is the responsibility of snowmobile clubs and Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association (MnUSA) volunteers. MnUSA is the statewide organization that supports the clubs and volunteers as the voice at the legislature, promoting positive legislation to protect, enhance and fund our trail system. MnUSA depends upon membership dues to fund these activities.
MnUSA provides answers to the following frequently asked questions about trail building, maintenance and grooming and snowmobile trail funding in Minnesota.
What roles do volunteer snowmobile clubs play in creating and maintaining Minnesota snowmobile trails?
· Clubs map, design, construct, mark, groom and maintain approximately 21,300 miles of trails.
· Clubs provide the culverts, bridges, signage, trail maps, etc.
· Clubs obtain permits from land owners to use their land for the trail system.
· Clubs purchase their own grooming equipment.
· Club volunteers use their own equipment such as chain saws, tools, ATV’s, etc. for trail maintenance work.
What role does the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) play in maintaining snowmobile trails?
· DNR administers the grants for funding, providing financial assistance to the clubs. Locally controlled trails can then exist where none have before.
· DNR constructs, grooms and maintains approximately 900 miles of the 22,200 mile snowmobile trail system.
Do snowmobile clubs receive any reimbursement for the creation and maintenance of Minnesota’s snowmobile trails?
· Grants are provided to the clubs based on their location in the state, average snowfall, length of season, and other criteria.
· The expenses in excess of grant funds are paid for by the clubs through fundraisers, donations, charitable gambling, etc.
Where does funding for snowmobile trails come from?
· Funding comes from snowmobile registration, snowmobile trail pass stickers, fines and 1 percent of unrefunded gas tax which represents the tax paid on gas purchased by snowmobilers for non-highway use. This money is deposited in a dedicated snowmobile account to pay for snowmobile trails, enforcement and DNR administration.
What role can I, as a snowmobiler, have in protecting and maintaining the trails?
· Join a club. For information on snowmobile clubs in your area, contact the MnUSA office or visit MnUSA on the web at www.mnsnowmobiler.org
· Join MnUSA. For more information contact the MnUSA office or visit MnUSA on the web at www.mnsnowmobiler.org.
· Vote for candidates that support snowmobiling and recreational access to public lands
Snowmobile Trail Funding System
Currently approximately $14.6 million is appropriated annually from the snowmobile account for the development, maintenance and operation of the state snowmobile system. Approximately $8.4 million is used to run the grant programs to the clubs that maintain 21,300+ miles of trails. An additional $6.2 million is appropriated to the DNR for enforcement, state trails and management of the snowmobile account.
The grants to the clubs provide reimbursement for a portion of their operating costs. The grants are paid on a per mile basis to the clubs based on the area of the state where the trails are located. The clubs provide the volunteer labor necessary to do the maintenance on the trails.
Minnesota’s snowmobile trail system is the backbone of winter tourism in the state. With a present grant-in-aid trail budget of $7.7 million going to the clubs to build and maintain approximately 96% of the trails, a conservative $200 million is generated in tourism dollars. A recently completed economic impact study reports the snowmobile effect on Minnesota includes 8,000 jobs with wages and salaries of $245 million; $529 million in gross state product; $1 billion in gross receipts/sales and $56 million in state and local tax revenues. Snowmobiling is an important industry to Minnesota and adequate funding is necessary to provide the trails.
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