Snowmobile Funding Presented to Cattaraugus County Federation of Snowmobilers
Nine area snowmobile clubs that maintain trails in Cattaraugus County will benefit from the annual snowmobile registration fees collected by New York State. New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation recently awarded Cattaraugus County, the municipal sponsor, $170,470.00 in funding to help improve and maintain the 359 miles of funded snowmobile trails in Cattaraugus County.
The registration fees paid by snowmobilers provide the funding to perpetuate a statewide system of trails thereby requiring no use of taxpayer funds. Kirk Hayes, President, Cattaraugus County Federation of Snowmobile Clubs, thanked the Department of Economic Development, Planning & Tourism personnel, Deb Opferbeck and Becky Smith as well as James Isaacson, Senior Planner, for providing marketing, GPS and GIS mapping support for the program.
The key to the snowmobile trail program in New York is that it is part of a comprehensive system that includes funding for a Statewide Insurance Policy, Snowmobile Safety Courses, Law Enforcement, Groomer Training Courses and Trail Maintenance Grants. This interconnected trail system is the result of thousands of hours of volunteer labor and cooperation of countless landowners. Deb and Becky ensured an updated snowmobiling brochure was again printed and distributed this year providing free trail maps to visitors which in addition, identifies numerous small businesses along the trail that offer snowmobilers assorted services. They also took calls and sent the brochure to snowmobilers in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Small businesses scattered throughout the County benefit from visitor spending. Signed snowmobile trails can be found in virtually every township in the County and many Villages as well. Snowmobiling is a growing family sport that provides a great quality of life for local residents while also attracting outside visitors to the area. With the winter we are having, there has been a noticeable increase in groups riding here in Cattaraugus County this year. James has GPS’d two of the clubs complete trail systems and provided a file to the Sheriff’s Department containing the coordinates of all trail junctions. The Department of Economic Development, Planning and Tourism, Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Department and the Cattaraugus County Federation of Snowmobilers work closely together for the safety of snowmobiling in the County.
Representatives from the Federation of Snowmobile Clubs, Inc. attended a special ceremony today in the Cattaraugus County legislative chambers to accept the grant award from the County Legislature. The Cattaraugus County Federation of Snowmobile Clubs, Inc. comprised of representation from all nine active snowmobile clubs in the County, prepared the initial grant application on behalf of the County and will handle distribution of the funds to all nine clubs receiving funding this year. The Federation President Kirk Hayes, Vice President Alan Bekiel, NYSSA Director George Couell, Federation Trail Coordinator Cathy Hill, Federation Treasurer Lisa Foster and Federation Secretary Luann Bekiel, along with countless other volunteers coordinated this lengthy process whereby all the clubs access trail funding through one municipal sponsor (Cattaraugus County). Kirk Hayes stressed the fact that credit for the 359 mile trail system goes first and foremost to the landowners for their cooperation, without which, none of this would be possible. "The intent of the statewide system is to keep snowmobilers on clearly designated trails rather than on lands where their use is not permitted," he said. The statewide insurance policy provides protection for those landowners that participate in the approved trail system. Please join a club and if you are a member, “Please volunteer to do the work required to keep our trails OPEN.”
The Department of Economic Development, Planning & Tourism again assisted the Snowmobile Federation in securing trail grant funding from NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. We can’t stress the importance of growing tourism niche markets like snowmobiling. The statewide inter-connected trail system (currently over 10,000 miles) promotes "snowmobile touring" which is a growing activity among snowmobiling enthusiasts. Snowmobiling has become more of a touring activity where enthusiasts ride 100 to 200 miles per day spending substantial amounts of money on fuel, food and lodging which also means sales tax revenues for the County. Snowmobilers are known for driving long distances to reach key destinations in Canada, the Adirondacks and New England, but Western New York offers an excellent close convenient option. Snowmobiling has become a major economic engine for some communities already with daily expenditures reaching over $100 per snowmobiler. For more information on Snowmobiling in the Enchanted Mountains of Cattaraugus County contact Cattaraugus County Tourism at 1-800-331-0543 or visit our website at EnchantedMountains.com.
Remember: Please ride safe and ride with respect. Please consider joining a snowmobile club in your area. It is through the hard work of these volunteer-based not-for-profit groups that residents and visitors alike have access to such a great network of trails.
Enjoy snowmobiling in the Enchanted Mountains of Cattaraugus County!