With trails to groom, Ultra seeks members Snowmobilers wanted

Earlier this spring, the Becker County Board of Commissioners voted to divide up 265 miles of snowmobile trails between three clubs, and now that winter is approaching, ULTRA Club is looking for new members — especially those who know something about grooming trails.

 “We’ve never groomed, so this is new to us,” ULTRA board member Chris Lindberg said.

 While the snowmobile clubs — along with ULTRA, the trails were divided between Midnite Riders and Northwoods Trail Reapers — have always been responsible for helping with cleaning, brushing and signing the trails, this is a big added responsibility — big in importance, and big in size.

 To help raise awareness — and possibly garner some grooming help as well — ULTRA (United Lakes and Trails Riders Association) is hosting its annual membership drive and chili feed on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. in the Ranch House at Soo Pass Ranch.

 Lindberg said it gives snowmobile enthusiasts a chance to meet board members and to socialize with other ULTRA members. ULTRA has been in existence since the late 1980s.

 Besides just the upkeep of the trails, ULTRA also runs and organizes youth snowmobile safety training; organizes family, youth and ladies-only rides; hosts the annual Vintage Snowmobile Run, and hosts an annual summer picnic for club members and their families.

“We still get together in the summer and do fun things,” Lindberg said.

ULTRA has about 100 family members.

To groom and maintain the trails, the snowmobile clubs are given a grant through the Department of Natural Resources from gas tax funds and snowmobile registration fees.

 The county used to take care of grooming, but has now turned the chore, and DNR money that goes with it, over to the clubs.

 “Money spent by snowmobilers is earmarked for snowmobilers,” Lindberg said.

According to past figures, it’s estimated that UTLRA would get about $39,000 to groom and maintain the 102 miles of trails the club has been assigned.

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 Midnite Riders is responsible for 73 miles for $28,000, and Northwood Trail Reapers gets $34,000 for 90 miles of trails.

 For the membership drive on Sept. 22, Lindberg said they are hoping to “get some new faces and to get more involved.” General membership meetings are then held the fourth Thursday of each month, October through March with a change in days in November and December, and board meetings are the second Thursday of every month.

 Club members work on the trails on a volunteer basis, which is also why there is a need for more club members.

Lindberg said the club wants to make sure the Becker County trails are some of the best in the state because of the tourism it brings to the county and area cities.

“If the club isn’t here, the volunteers are not here, and the trails likely wouldn’t be here,” he said.