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Tony Sheppard says the snowmobiling product offered in Newfoundland and Labrador is unparalleled to anywhere in Canada.
He said snowmobilers can enjoy a ride on a groomed trail network in various pockets of the province or they can leave the comfort of the neatly packed trails and go directly across a bog or pond and explore the backcountry.
He said snowmobilers in other parts of Canada don’t have the luxury of being able to leave a groomed trail and connect to the great outdoors because there are a lot of private properties and land to be crossed and they’re not allowed to go there.
Sheppard wants to see the snowmobiling experience improved for all riders and the only way that can happen is by investing more money into grooming efforts.
It’s a user-pay system for snowmobilers when it comes to riding the groomed trails and the provincial federation has the authority to sell trail stickers as a way to generate revenue.
The only way to improve the product at home, Sheppard said, is to put more money into grooming. He said the only way his group can accomplish this is to have a boost in the sale of trail permits or put the price up on the purchase price.
“The more trail passes we sell then the better-groomed product we’re going to have and the better product that people are going to enjoy more,” Sheppard said.
Trail passes are sold two ways: there are 85 vendors across the province who have them on hand for people to purchase and snowmobilers also have the option of purchasing a trail sticker online.
He will have a better handle on trail pass sales around the middle of the month, but in the early going, Sheppard said online sales are only down one per cent.
Meanwhile, he said, vendor sales have shown a significant increase compared to the same time last year and it’s worth noting that the federation provided vendors with extra passes this year to ensure they didn’t run out of them.
The federation wants riders to get the most out of their experience. They also hope that its members understand that trail stickers are a key to not only keeping things running smoothly, but a big thing to come into play if snowmobilers are serious about making it even better than it is right now.
Top priorities for snowmobiling clubs on the west coast in 2019:
-Lots of snow is the biggest thing, because without it nobody is out on the trails and nobody gets to enjoy being on their machines.
-Promote trail stickers to members because it supports the grooming efforts of the group and allows for people to have a great riding experience if they have great trails to ride.
-Encourage people to hit the trails when the snow comes and promote safe riding to all members to ensure a good experience for everybody.
Bay St. George Snowmobile Association
-Keeping the trails groomed on a regular basis is one of the top priorities for the association in 2019.
-Installing new signage along the trails.
-The association wants to improve the social setting in the group by holding more events like BBQs at the warm-up shelter.
Junction Trail Blazers Snowmbile Club
-Trail grooming is No. 1 priority for the club this winter. The club is expecting a new groomer to arrive soon and it should be on the snow by Jan. 15. There hasn’t been any grooming activity yet because there is very little snow, but the club has been walked in so they are ready for grooming.
- Destination signage is another big thing for the club this year. The club wants riders to be better informed on how far they are from services and how to get to those services, so the more signs, the better it will be.
-Safety on the trails is also a concern for the club. There are a lot of things happening on that members don’t want to see on the trails and in the warm-up shelter, such as speeding, and they believe more enforcement on the trails is required.