Sledding The County: Volunteering
LITTLETON, Maine (WAGM) -
Aroostook County is home to more than 2,300 miles of snowmobile trails. These trails are a huge draw for many tourists to come and ride, but what would happen if those trails weren’t maintained? In this week’s Sledding The County, Brian Bouchard looks at the backbone of Northern Maine Snowmobiling…Volunteers.
“Volunteers play a huge role, they’re actually the only working part of the snowmobile industry in the state of Maine that drives our trail system”
Matthew Steadman is the Northern Region Vice President for the Maine Snowmobile Association. In his role, he oversees and communicates with snowmobile clubs in Aroostook County.
“There are only a handful of paid people in the state that work through our snowmobile program to get us what we have, so all the rest of the work done on our trail system to drive our economy here in Maine, especially here in Northern Maine is done by volunteers and that’s done on about 140,000 hours of volunteer work every year.”
Steadman went on to say many snowmobile clubs, especially in Northern Maine are experiencing smaller club membership and volunteer numbers, including one club with a handful of members, some in their 80′s. He says if clubs start to disappear, it will mean that neighboring clubs will have to pick up the slack, which means more hours grooming trails, or possibly, some trails shutting down all together.
“I think all the clubs are reacting the same way, we have an aging group of people that are with the different clubs” - Pam Ward - President, Meduxnakeag Ramblers
Pam Ward is the President of the Meduxnakeag Ramblers based in Littleton, and says she has about 10-15 regular volunteers, and would like to see more young people embrace snowmobile clubs.
“And I can’t blame the younger people, they have families, there are sports, there are dance, so they’re very busy I’m sure. But we would love to see some younger people come help out, even if its for a day, it doesn’t have to be every single week”
The Ramblers hold a breakfast every Saturday in an effort to draw more people to the sport and the club.
“A lot of work goes into putting on a breakfast, and then you’ve got the people who do the grooming and our run from here over to Oxbow is like an 8 hour run. That’s a lot of hours for one person to be in a groomer.”
“Our clubs need young people infused into them to take on these roles and to do the work so get out and meet with your local clubs, volunteer to take on a task and step up. It’s the right thing to do and it’s a great way to pay back” says Steadman.
“Join a club and volunteer, it’s a great way to meet some new people” says Ward.
For more information or to find a club in your area please visit:
Brian Bouchard, NewsSource8
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