Sledding the County - Gateway Snowmobile Club
VAN BUREN, Maine (WAGM) -
Aroostook County is known for its large and well maintained snowmobile trail system, as well as the clubs who support local businesses and snowmobile tourism. Back in 2016 one club was on the verge of collapse, but has since made a comeback. NewsSource8′s Brian Bouchard has this weeks Sledding the County.
“Membership is always tough for a small club, and throughout the county and throughout the State of Maine all the snowmobile clubs operate on the same premise, they’re all grassroots, volunteer organizations, but sometimes it gets to the point where volunteerism starts to fall off”
Though Van Buren Town Manager Luke Dyer was not a member of the Gateway Snowmobile Club at the time, he brings up an issue that many clubs find themselves dealing with, low membership, and lack of interest in maintaining the trails. WAGM ran a story highlighting the situation in January of 2016.
“Van Buren is a crucial hub for the snowmobile trail system connecting central and southern Aroostook with the valley. Groomers did get out and connect the trail system to caribou, but that is all that has been done with no manager to set a schedule and to ensure the equipment is updated. "
Since the attention garnered from that report, the club began to bounce back. New members joined, and new leaders stepped up.
“It was after things started going south, and the crew that we had on board, they were starting to get things back going and I stepped in, helped with the grant to acquire our groomer and things just started coming back to life.” says Devin Parent – Vice President, Gateway Snowmobile Club
The club now boasts a roster of over 100 members.
“We’re constantly complimented on the quality of our trails, we groom about 85 miles of trails. We’re just working hard to grow our membership.” says Dyer.
One method of increasing membership is through use of QR codes, which makes it easy for someone riding to quickly join and support the club. Another method is through a 24/7 Live stream of the 4 Corners Intersection, which Dyer says has been a hit with riders.
“Now people are stopping at the head of the camera and we can see them drive by and they’re screenshotting themselves waving.” says Dyer
Despite the cold, I ventured out and gave the camera a wave myself via Snowshoe.
“Were trying to modernize, get with the current technology, put the club out there and let people see it.”
Parent says the clubs next focus is to replace their groomer shed which has fallen into significant disrepair, with hopes of a new facility that will not only house their groomer, but also a clubhouse. In addition, the club is bringing back their Spring Fling event for kids on March 5th. Parent says supporting the club through membership, volunteering and supporting local businesses is one way the snowmobile community of Northern Maine can help keep the snowmobile trail intersection that runs through Van Buren going.
Brian Bouchard, NewsSource8
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