Let’s Promote our Sport
Our trails open date is less than two months away. December 1st is coming up real soon, are you excited yet? Did you go to the Minnesota State Fair, the Outlaw Grass Drags, or Hay Days? Attendance was up at all of these events, and there was a lot of interest in MNUSA, and what we do. Many people signed up as new members, or renewed their existing memberships to become a part of, or continue to be a part of our great organization. We should be proud of, and thank our many volunteers who spent 100’s of hours working these various membership booths.
Are your winter trips already being planned, or are they being done soon? How many neighbors, friends, or co-workers have you thought about, or already included? How many of them are not members of MNUSA? How many people are you going to invite to go riding with you that have never ridden a snowmobile before? Can you think of any better of a way to get our membership numbers up, and increase the interest and participation of the sport of snowmobiling?
Your club roosters are being mailed out to your various organizations in the next few weeks. Getting them returned to our office with current data, and all of your existing members renewed is very, very important. Your club members will lose their membership privileges unless you do this on time. We want everyone to get the most out of their membership including receiving this great magazine, life insurance benefits, discounts at our business members, and staying informed on what’s going on, and feeling proud to be a part of it all.
Please forward your great ideas for keeping our existing members to our office so we can share them with our membership committee, and our other clubs. How are you getting your members to renew, are you sending them a paper invoice? We are trained throughout our life experiences to pay bills when they come in the mail. Many of our clubs use this method, and most have had great success doing it. Give it a try, you might find great results.
There are many people out there that will continue to try to end all forms of motorized recreation as we know it. If we don’t have enough members and funding to continue to Protect Your Trails, who is going to do it? Without the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association, the future of snowmobiling in Minnesota is at great risk. Do you want your kids, and grandkids to have a place to ride?
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has informed us that they have added more than 1300 miles of snowmobile trails to the Grant in Aid trail system starting this year. The funding for this came from our dedicated snowmobile fund after the completion of the GPS mapping of all of our existing GIA trails. Please review their related news article in this month’s magazine. Most of these were club trails already on the ground, and being maintained by our various groups.
We need to get donations sent to our MNUSA office for giving something back to our military veterans who have given so much to us. Our second annual ride will be held on February 11th in conjunction with our Winter Rendezvous. Without a lot of help from all of you, this event won’t happen. There is nothing in our MNUSA budget for this event, it must be funded 100% funded from donations. Please give something back.
Your Attendance is Needed at the Legislative Reception
Our annual legislative reception is being held at 4 p.m. on March 10 at the Kelly Inn in St. Paul. Again, it’s time to step up and show our legislators that we care how our money is being used.
By now your club contacts have received all of the information needed to contact their legislators to invite them to attend. We need all of you to be informed, and to be at this event. Please contact your club representative or our office if you need more information. Last year was our best one ever, and we want this one to be even better. These events are only successful if we have our people there from every district.
There already have been more than four bills introduced that affect snowmobiling, and there are several other proposals pending including one that proposes to take money from our dedicated account to use for other related things. If you don’t think that every fund in this state isn’t being looked at to help fund our $7 billion proposed budget shortfall, you need to think again. The money is going to come from somewhere, and we need to protect ours.
We’re again not asking for a bailout, but only that our money is being used for the purposes it was intended, and to “Protect Our Trails.” Another thing you can do as an individual is donate to the campaign funds of your state representative and state senator. This is a good way to show them you care. Up to $50 per person or $100 per family is 100 percent refundable back to you from the state.
Our annual Winter Rendezvous is over and the Itasca County Snowmobile Alliance deserves a huge thank you from all of us. Co-chairs Wayne Roskos and Shelby Jensen made due with the hand they were dealt from Mother Nature, and they still pulled off a fantastic weekend. The several guided rides held on Friday and the six groups that rode on Saturday all had a great time.
The 290 people who attended enjoyed all of the various events throughout the weekend, including the fantastic banquet held on Saturday night. The lunch with Gov. Tim Pawlenty was well attended and very informative. The facility was wonderful, and all that would have made it better if there had been more snow. We again proved that snowmobilers can have fun without having perfect conditions. Our annual silent auction raised more than $11,000 for our legal defense fund. Thanks to all who contributed to this great cause.
Our first annual military ride was a good time for the 34 guys and gals who rode with us. We must thank our guides Rich Jensen, Todd Lucachick, Stan Gale, Carson Berglund and Lee Mattfield for braving some tough conditions and finding us some great backcountry trails to take them on. All we saw were smiles on their faces as we were riding though the woods on the brand new Arctic Cat, Yamaha and Polaris snowmobiles provided for their use by our great manufacturers.
All of the military personnel are waiting for us to contact them for next year’s event, which will again be held in conjunction with next year’s Winter Rendezvous. The sponsors who helped make this ride possible deserve huge thanks and are listed with the other news on this event included in this issue of the magazine.
It’s Time to Enjoy Our Snowy Winter
We have our dream. There is measurable snow throughout the entire state. We have waited more than five years for this to happen, so let’s get out there and enjoy what it’s all about. The trails are groomed; our clubs are finally in a financial position to maintain them in top-notch condition, so what are you waiting for? It has snowed more than 20 of the last 35 days. We are on a roll with great snow predicted for the rest of the season.
By the time you read this article I will have went on our first local club trip to Park Rapids, Minnesota, and I will have returned from the first of my two annual trips to Wyoming. I am doing what you all should be doing – out promoting MnUSA, and having a great time doing it. How many members have you signed up so far this year? There are more than 150,000 non-members out there enjoying our sport and the trails we all work so hard for. Get them involved in your club and our state organization. Do you have MnUSA membership applications in your suit or sled? Do you ask the snowmobilers you meet on the trails if they support snowmobiling and the trail systems we have?
We are going to need large membership numbers to keep our funds in place to allow our trails and clubs to continue to do what it takes to make trails happen. During the first week of the 2009 federal legislators being in session the senate passed a bill by a 66-12 vote to put over two million more acres into Wilderness.
Our sport is a huge economic engine for our state, and creates thousands of jobs. Snowmobiling is essential for our state, and cuts in our funding will only compromise the quality of our trail systems, and our citizen’s lives. Minnesota is the motherland of snowmobiling. You need to get with your local legislators to be sure they understand this, and how it all is funded. We pay our own way; our funds are generated by our own money from snowmobile registrations, the trail pass user fees and our own snowmobile related gas taxes.
We are not asking anyone for a bailout, or part of their money, we only want our money to be used for our own interests. Protect your trails, get on the phone and take a legislator snowmobiling, or get them to your local club meeting. Be sure they know what it is all about and how it works. Our trail pass fee is less than half of Wisconsin’s or Michigan’s trail pass fees. We are not asking for too much. What we have now doesn’t cover the costs associated with installing and maintaining your trails. Volunteerism is the only way that it currently happens.
Unfortunately, the TV news and newspaper stories on snowmobiling again have only reported on the negative. Recently we had two deaths from riders leaving the trail and hitting fixed objects. A few weeks ago we lost 10 snowmobilers in two separate avalanche situations.
Almost a fourth of our Minnesota snowmobilers go to the western states to enjoy our sport of snowmobiling. We have education and safety programs in place for all of your use, be sure to get familiar with all of them and use them. Please know where you’re at, and what the local conditions are. We need you to be here enjoying our sport instead of being another bad headline.
A Special Request
Like you, Terry Hansmeier is an avid snowmobiler. He and his wife, Phyllis, have been members of the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association (MnUSA) for six years and have done their fare share of volunteering for the association at the State Fair and Haydays.
Over the years, Terry’s affinity for snowmobiling has been second to none. In fact, he says it’s at the top of the list of all recreational activities he enjoys. Unfortunately, not long ago that was threatened. On April 20, 2007, his life took a drastic and sudden turn when his spinal cord was severed in a work-related accident. The injury left him permanently paralyzed from the waist down.
Interestingly, while some might have abandoned snowmobiling after suffering a life-altering accident such as that, Terry found solace in it. Since the accident, his family reassured him that he’d still be able to enjoy the things he and his family did before his injury – and he has. Despite his disability, he’s soldiered on and continues to ride. He recently bought a new sled, and being a welder, he’s now designing a rack to mount his wheelchair so he’ll have a ride when he gets to his destination. He also plans on taking several trips this winter and will ride with us at the Winter Rendezvous.
Recently Terry contacted me and he told me his story. As part of the disabled community, the main reason he contacted me was to find out if there is a way that a strong organization like MnUSA can help him form and promote a group of disabled riders. He wants to be part of the process to get others like him to ride again.
He believes that snowmobiling is a sport that can still be rewarding without limitations to him and other members of the disabled community. During his rehabilitation, Terry met many others who feel the same way that he does. Nobody should give up the things they love to do just because they’re disabled.
He says he plans to continue to work in our membership booths at the State Fair and Haydays. If you are disabled and are still riding or those of you who don’t think you still can, Terry wants to hear from you. Also, he would like ideas from the rest of us on what you think our organization can do to promote this great idea. Terry, his wife and son, Levi, can be reached at 612-702-7606. Please share this idea, and his contact information with anyone you know who could become a part of this.
In other news, over the last several years there’s been an increase of no trespassing signs showing up and fences with closed gates. Don’t take for granted that the trails you ride today will be there next year or the year after. Land access issues have been a part of previous legislative sessions, and will continue to be a topic for many years to come.
With the State of Minnesota going into a huge budget shortfall, every source of funding is going to be looked at from every direction. We must get out and form strong relationships with all of our elected officials at the city, county, state and federal levels. They must know that without our volunteers there would not be trails. Also, they need to know that we pay our own way with our own money. Our trails are funded from our registration fees, our own gas money, and the trail pass revenues.
Remember the phrase, “United we stand, and divided we fall.” It’s who we are.
As the Season Begins, There’s Still Lots to Do
We need to thank Chuck Chadbourne, and his Region 9 Fall Workshop Committee members for hosting one of the best workshops we’ve ever had. The laughter, great seminars, the food, the snow dance and the productive meetings that will help move our organization forward into the future were great.
At the Fall Workshop, I was re-elected as president of the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association (MnUSA). Thank you for giving me the chance to continue being your president. I’ll do my best to keep us moving forward in a positive manner for another year. Together we can make this the best volunteer group going.
Your trails officially open on December 1. If you’re not one of the thousands of volunteers that make our 20,000 miles of trails possible, you need to thank them. Without volunteers, there would not be trails for you to enjoy. Since our trail systems are for all registered snowmobilers to use and enjoy, we need to get more of them to step up and support MnUSA. Without additional members, we cannot continue to Protect Your Trails, so get out there and ask them to help us.
A major effort to get past members back is now underway. Your membership committee and board of directors have directed our office staff to mail out more than 4,000 membership surveys and requests to rejoin MnUSA to all of the people who haven’t rejoined during the prior two years before December 31, 2007. This is being modeled after a sample survey previously approved at our spring board meeting, and still being worked on by Region 6. Their survey has re-signed more than 50 members so far, and more are still filtering in.
The key to this is when someone takes the time to answer a survey, that we take the time to contact them to resolve their concerns. Your region directors have committed to make this happen. Please take the time to contact your directors and offer your assistance. This will give your group the chance to get these people to join your local club.
New member’s contact information for those who join MnUSA without a club affiliation is still being sent to your lead director. Your directors are to forward this information to the contact person in your club. If you’re not receiving this information, please contact your lead directors.
Your Minnesota Snowmobile Advisory Committee (MSAC) worked very hard with the Minnesota DNR staff at our recent meeting. We reviewed the preliminary GPS mileage numbers, and are still seeing mileage numbers decrease from a few clubs. We have mailed our member clubs their preliminary mileage numbers and advised them that they must get any changes to their DNR
We also sent out a new appeals process that your club needs to follow. You must get your final trail mileage resolved before December 31. Your new GPS trail mileage totals will be used for your Grant-In-Aid trail funding contracts starting with the 2009-2010 season. Any changes that are not resolved by the December 31 deadline will not be considered until the 2010-2011 contracts. It’s your money and your groups must get this done.
Get out there and enjoy all of our hard work. Ride our trails and keep thinking more snow.
Off to a Great Start for 2009?
It’s only mid October as I write this and there is already two feet of snow in Montana and Wyoming. The 2009 Farmer’s Almanac states the following “... below average temperatures for most of the U.S.” The Almanac also predicts above normal snowfall for the Great Lakes and the Midwest and above normal precipitation for much of the country. This Almanac has 85 percent accuracy for predictions of more than two years in the future. This seems to make it appear that we are off to a great start for the 2009 snowmobile season.
We all know that snow makes our sport prosper. Let’s all start getting excited about winter and get out and promote our organization. We have been waiting for at least the last five years for the big one. It’s time to get your equipment ready, make your trip plans and be ready to enjoy your sport. There are more than 277,000 registered snowmobiles in the state of Minnesota. Sign up your neighbor or take a friend snowmobiling. Get some of those 100,000 families that are not members of MnUSA to become part of our group. We need the businesses that make money from our sport, and your purchases for our sport to become associate members. We need to get serious about growing our membership. If everyone would do just one new one, we double in size. What if you do two or three new memberships?
Your Minnesota Snowmobile Advisory Council (MSAC) has been meeting with the DNR for various snowmobiling related items since 1996. We have been asked to help them in an advisory role only to complete a transparent method of funding our trails. Our recent meetings over the last two years have been to advise the DNR on what our grooming clubs need to continue installing and maintaining our 18,000 plus miles of Grant-in-Aid Trail systems. During the last year, the DNR staff has completed the mapping of our entire trail systems via GPS. These final mileage totals will be used for calculating your trail funding starting with the 2009-2010 season.
MnUSA has sent out letters to all member grooming club’s trail coordinators advising them of the DNR’s mileage totals. Someone from your group should be contacted by the DNR staff to verify these numbers. If your club hasn’t meet with the DNR to verify your trails and mileage totals, or feels these numbers are incorrect, you must contact your local DNR representative as soon as possible. We are also working on an appeal process for you to use if your group and the DNR staff cannot come to an agreement.
Once these numbers have been verified and approved by your group and the DNR they will become final. All of your group’s future funding will use these mileage totals. All reroutes will need to be GPS verified and then will be added or deleted from these totals.
We are, and will continue to meet with DNR staff on this and any other matters that will benefit our sport and members. If you have any questions on any of these items, contact your region’s representative on our MSAC Committee. All nine regions have a member, and one vote on this committee. If you don’t know who your region representative is, please contact our office for their information.
Now is the Time to Promote Our Sport
Are you excited yet? The official date for our snowmobile trails to open is December 1, meaning the official start of winter is only two months away. Are you ready to go out and enjoy what all of our volunteerism and hard work is all about? Did you buy that new sled you have been dreaming about? Are your winter trips already planned with your clubs, friends and families to those places you cannot live without?
What an exciting time of the year for all of us to get out there and promote our sport, the Minnesota United Snowmobile Association (MnUSA) and what we all stand for – “Protect Your Trails.” Have you thought about which friends you’re going to invite to go snowmobiling?
When you are talking to your neighbor, friends, co-workers and business owners, don’t forget to remind them that we need more members. We need to increase our membership by at least 15 percent this year. This means that we must get our club rosters up to date and get those existing memberships renewed. Retention is our biggest loss each year. Are we doing enough fun things with our club members to keep them excited about their membership? What can you and I do different to give our members support?
Please forward to our office any great ideas you may have for keeping our existing members so we can share them with our other members and clubs. We need to know anything you’re doing to keep it all going. How are you getting your existing members to renew? Better yet, write an article for the club news section of our magazine describing a fun club event, or other things that your club is doing. Tell everyone why you think it’s great to belong.
After working in the membership booths at the Outlaw Grass Drags in Princeton, Minnesota, the State Fair and at Haydays I found there still is a lot of interest in MnUSA and our sport. We had one young man ask if he could join, and then he paid cash for a three-year membership. Several people brought along one check just to renew their membership because they always do it every year at the State Fair. The quantities of existing members renewing, and the new members signing up, increased from the previous years at all three of those events. All three of the MnUSA booths were a huge success, and we need to thank all of our volunteers who took the time to work our membership booths at those events.
The booths are very important to our membership growth. Several people told us how important our organization is to the future of snowmobiling. They feel without us representing them, there would be no one to protect their trails. There are people out there that want to close our trails. People visit and take their time to thank us, and also give us their opinions on what they think we should be doing to protect and continue snowmobiling.
Don’t forget that the election is coming in November. Be sure to contact your candidates and ask them exactly how they stand on our issues. Make your vote count; let’s get the right people in office. Speaking of fall, are you signed up for the MnUSA fall workshop? It’s a very important weekend because a lot of decisions will be made that could affect the future of our sport. Please take the time to attend and help us move forward.
MnUSA is About One Common Goal: Protecting Trails
I would like to thank Region Two for their time spent hosting our great Summer Campout and business meetings. The almost 200 people that attended really enjoyed themselves.
We had two very productive and informative meetings that were well attended, and a lot of important information was discussed. If you missed the weekend and these important meetings, you really missed out.
Our nominations to date are to re-elect your current executive board for another term. This is great for now, but who’s going to step up for us after next year as all of our term limits will be up if we’re re-elected for on more year? Our election chairperson has asked that we each answer a few questions for all of you:
Why are you running for re-election?
I still firmly believe that we must have one organization to represent the snowmobilers in the state of Minnesota. We must have strong leadership that can and are willing to spend the time needed to get it done. We are doing what you members are asking us to do, and will continue to do so for another year.
What are your qualifications?
I have the desire to get this group of members to believe in MnUSA, and to move this organization forward. Being a past president of several organizations I can keep our meetings productive and efficient.
How many years have you been a member of MnUSA?
I’ve been a member, region officer and volunteer for 25 years.
What clubs and regions do you belong to?
Region Eight, Sno-Trails Inc., and the Prior Lake Snowmobile Association.
What do you see in the future for MnUSA?
We are going to be challenged at all levels to keep our sport alive, and to keep our trails open. There will be more bills introduced to eliminate our funding, and everything we’ve all worked for. We must get more members to believe in us, and to join and support us. Our organization needs new, young strong members who are willing to get involved in the fight to Protect Our Trails. They must be willing to spend the time, and make the commitment to do whatever it takes to make it all work, and to keep it. We are all about volunteerism, and being unified with one common goal.
If we don’t have enough money to continue the fight, who is going to do it? We must come up with a reason why you must join us, and help to provide the funding necessary. Without the necessary funding we cannot keep and protect our trails. You must get out and recruit new members. Get your neighbor, talk to your local businesses and get them signed up. Without the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association there is no future for snowmobiling.
Now, I’m off my soap box. Let’s get out and have some fun doing summer things. After all, winter is only four months away. It’s not too early to start thinking about snow and all the fun times we all work for. As the days start to get shorter, are you happy?