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Snowmobile clubs key to solid trail system

Although there was no snow last winter, the 14 clubs that make up the Fond du Lac County Snowmobile Association spent $67,423 on trails, charities and gifts to the community.
A breakdown shows $10,430 was donated to charities and $56,993 spent on trails and grooming equipment.
Although the groomers never hit the trails, clubs still incurred expenses for insurance, loan payments, storage, landowner gifts and off-season maintenance on the groomers.
Club members contributed more than 3,700 hours of volunteer time to the community and in trail preparation.
The state reimburses clubs for their work to keep trails maintained, but the lack of snow meant clubs lost a lot of revenue.
Good trails
The first requirement for a good trail is a good snow base, said Tom Hinchliffe of the Fond du Lac County Snowmobile Association, who has been riding since the 1960s. This means several inches of hard-packed snow. If the base is worn by snowmobilers who use the trail before it is ready, good conditions are delayed.
People eager to ride should use the Fond du Lac County Snowmobile Association website to learn about trails that are open or closed, Hinchlifee said. The site can be viewed at www.fdlsnowmobileassn.com.
The Association reserves the right to shut down the trail system when it is learned that snowmobilers are not staying on marked trails. Anyone seen riding off trails should be asked to stay on the trail or reported to local officials.
“The future of our sport requires us to educate others on the privilege — not the right — to use the trails,” Hinchliffe said.
There are new signs this year notifying riders when they enter or leave Fond du Lac County, as well as those dividing the county by quadrant.
Importance of clubs
Riders using county trails are encouraged to join a local snowmobile club or at least to donate to one that maintains trails they use regularly and to support club fund-raising events.
Funding for trail maintenance is a challenge, especially when revenue is reduced in low-snow times like last season.
Clubs need to balance early-season spending with projected needs later. If money runs out, clubs must turn to fundraisers to continue trail maintenance and grooming for the rest of the season.
A program may be viewed on the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs website.
• To find area snowmobile clubs, visit the Fond du Lac Snowmobile Association website or call local AWSC director Ray Sippel at (920) 533-4279.

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