JoMary Riders Monthly Report – March 2008

On Sunday, 2/17, I was riding the plowed section of the #111 connector, east of the Jo Mary road. I came around a sharp corner and there were two adult moose running at me at a pretty good clip. Not ten feet behind them was a guy who seemed to be having a real good time “running” these two animals. Well as soon as they saw me, the moose split up with one going over one bank and the other going over the bank in the opposite direction. They struggled immensely in the deep snow and finally just stopped. My group left immediately and the other guy sat there laughing about what he had done to the moose. (He had his modular helmet in the up position). One has to wonder what type of person gets a thrill out of chasing frightened moose down a plowed road. Definitely someone with a warped thought process.

Speaking of a warped thought process, you may have heard that the Maine Snowmobile Advisory Council voted unanimously to ask the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife committee ( I F & W ) to increase the resident and nonresident snowmobile registration fees for next season. Rather than asking for an increase, I F & W is currently talking about taking away some of our current funding and if they do increase the nonresident fees they want ALL of the increase to go to I F & W, not the snowmobile program. I have to wonder what is wrong with their heads? Here we have an industry that has an economic impact on the State of somewhere near $325 million, the clubs are just barely keeping their heads above water, fuel prices are killing us and this committee is talking about reducing our funding. Could this be the straw that finally breaks the camels back?? Here’s a little breakdown of the resident registration fee: Your $33 payment  to the State sends ONLY $13.24 to the snowmobile program to pay for trail maintenance and grooming. Another $5 goes into the Capital Equipment fund to help clubs offset the cost of purchasing grooming equipment. $8.14 goes to Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the remaining $6.62 stays in the community where you register your sled. So as you can see, well less than half of your registration fee finds its way to the trails program. And it doesn’t get any better for nonresidents: out of the $68 that you pay for a full season registration $17.65 goes to I F & W. Now they want to (potentially) increase the snowmobile registration fee and give all of the increase to I F & W. Why? Because I F & W is caught in Maine’s budget woes and is really hurting financially. And how about the snowmobile clubs of Maine, aren’t they also hurting financially? Of course they are but unfortunately, for the most part, WE CHOOSE TO REMAIN SILENT. How many of you have sent an email or called the Governors Office or members of the I F & W committee? They need to hear from us on important issues or they’re going to forget that we exist. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Send them a message that you, the average snowmobiler, are willing to see your registration fees increased AS LONG AS THOSE FEE INCREASES GO TO THE SNOWMOBILE PROGRAM. Face it, the registration fee is just about the lowest of all costs associated with owning and riding a sled. It’s time for Maine to raise the fees and to give the grooming entities across the State a corresponding increase in their reimbursable grooming rates. Let’s stop playing games and start paying a fair rate to all of the clubs and individuals who actually make the system work. We’re not asking for a tax increase so stop barking up that tree. We’re asking for an increase in a user fee and by and large, those users are willing to pay extra so that they may continue to experience some of the best trail riding in all of the Northeast.

Another group that you might want to contact is LURC, the Land Use Regulation Commission. I know that many members of the Jo Mary Riders own camps/homes in the unorganized territories of Maine. LURC is currently revising their Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP). This new CLUP will dictate the rules and regulations for the 10 million plus acres in Maine’s unorganized territory for the next decade or more. You need to be aware that tree huggers and non-motorized recreation are going to be the winners if this new CLUP is formally adopted. Don’t let the State usurp more of our rights. Get off your ass, become an informed citizen and get involved with the process. It is VERY important that property owners and recreational users of lands in the Unorganized Territories be involved in the new CLUP process. If not, groups like RESTORE, The AMC, the Sierra Club, and the Natural Resource Council of Maine are going to walk all over us. For more info check out www.maineforest.com.

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