Sledding the County: The Importance of Groomers

Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 4:16 PM EST
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Snowmobile Trail Groomers are often considered the unsung heroes of the snowmobile industry, with volunteers committed to ensuring the trails are up to par throughout the riding season. In this weeks sledding the county, Brian Bouchard learns how vital groomers are to the snowmobile economy of Aroostook County.

“A groomed trail is a safe trail”

Gary Marquis, Superintendent of Parks and Recreation for the City of Caribou says the snowmobile industry of Northern Maine relies on a groomed, safe, trail system.

“That’s what we’re known for up here in Aroostook county, is having the best rated trail system in the Northeast so that’s why the people that are coming are expecting good trails, and it is a lot of work.”

Marquis says club volunteers often spend long hours to keep those trails as ideal as possible.

“They spend 8, 12, 15 hours in a machine and ¾ of these guys are volunteers. It’s a lot of work, but it’s an enjoyable endeavor. You see the trail ahead of you and its rough and you look behind you and its smooth.”

Though grooming is essential to the snowmobile industry in the county, it isn’t free. Though clubs do receive reimbursement for some costs, clubs often have to make up the difference through fundraising. Marquis says some clubs grooming costs for an entire season can range between 30,000 to 90,000 dollars.

“A trip for us with two machines it’s going to be close to 500 to 600 dollars a night just in diesel.”

But despite the long hours, the financial burden of high fuel costs, Marquis says the real reason they do it is to support local businesses.

“What we do it for and I think the majority of everyone does it for is the businesses. Here in Caribou we groom to every business that we possibly can to that has trail accessibility and its close to 28 businesses that we groom to. It’s a little bit of time for us to do it but again, its what keeps everything going and if the money can stay local and the local businesses can utilize that to build on or fix then that’s what it’s all about.”

Brian Bouchard, Newssource8