Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Discussion: What Is Snowmobiling’s Economic Impact?

A number of debates in the Adirondacks revolve around snowmobiling, including opening long-closed backcountry roads to sleds, expanding trail networks or routing connector trials on state lands, and shared use of trails. Snowmobilers often cite their positive economic impact as a reason to expand the approximately 800 miles of groomed snowmobile trails on state land.

A new study of the 2010 – 2011 snowmobiling season commissioned by the New York State Snowmobile Association and undertaken by the SUNY Potsdam Institute for Applied Research, offers some insight. It concludes that snowmobiling statewide contributes more than $428.5 million annually in direct spending, but much of that money is spent in Adirondack feeder markets on sleds, trailers, maintenance, and equipment.

Results from the study indicate that snowmobiliers mostly live in a narrow swath of counties, New York’s  snowmobile belt, along the Mohawk River from the Capital District to Buffalo; about 64% live in rural areas, but about 31% live in suburban areas. About 11% live in the North Country, compared to 25% in the Finger Lakes and Central New York,  about 12% in Western New York, and 13% in the Capital Region; out of state residents are about 15% of the state’s snowmobilers.

The study suggests that the vast majority of annual spending may be occurring at or near home. About $44.5 million (10% of the total) was spent on meals and overnight trips in hotels/motels and about $1 million on snowmobile rentals (.2%). An additional $56 million (about 13%) was spent on fuel (snowmobilers are eligible for a rebate of  highway fuel taxes paid for snowmobile fuel, which may skew that number).

Looking at where snowmobilers ride and how much they spend there, 28% of days were spent in the North Country, compared to 18% for Central New York, and 19% in the Tug Hill Plateau. A rough estimate based on this study’s numbers would put the direct economic impact in the entire North Country region, not counting Tug Hill, (meals, trips, rentals) at about $12.7 million. If all visitors bought gas for their sleds in the North County (an unlikely scenario, since 89% of sled owners live elsewhere) that would add about $15.7 million.  In the Adirondack Park? In a winter like last winter? Who knows.

Snowmobiler experiences on the trail were also rated, and pointed to one of our weaknesses  – providing  information. The category with the highest disapproval rating, with 44% ranking fair and poor, was access to information about trail conditions.  More than 70% of snowmobilers reported that there was good or excellent access to lodging, restaurants, and fuel from trails.  About 80-90% felt that the State’s Trail Development and Maintenance Fund should be privatized and controlled by “snowmobilers themselves.”

The report also offers a glimpse of who snowmobilers are.  They are overwhelmingly employed (about 82%) and retired (about 14%). About 70% have a combined household income of more than $60,000 per year and about 95% own their own home; 20-23% own a second “home, camp, or property that is used primarily for snowmobiling.”

Snowmobilers spent more than $250 million on snowmobile and trailer purchases, maintenance, and equipment. The average snowmobiler owned 2.42 sleds purchased at a price of about $5,000, the average new snowmobile purchase price was $9,400; 91% were registered, 90% insured; 86% are two-stroke models and the median model year is 2004 (mode 2006). Ski-Doo, Polaris, and Artic Cat continue to dominate the market, but 54% of sleds were purchased used.

The survey was distributed online and via mail, 5,916 surveys were completed.  In comparison, the prior survey in 2003 returned 1,350 results. Another study of snowmobile dealers and businesses that depend on snowmobilers for a portion of their revenue is being undertaken by the Institute and is expected to be released later this year. There are an estimated 10,500 miles of snowmobile trails across New York State.

John Warren

John Warren

John Warren founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and oversees the day-to-day operations of the site in addition to editing The New York History Blog.

He has worked in media for 25 years as a print journalist, a documentary television producer, and now in new media. He's on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute and is the author of two books of regional history.

John's weekly Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report airs across the Adirondack North Country Region on the North Country Public Radio network.

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65 Responses

  1. Mick says:

    It’s the same exact reason why recreational club leases need to be protected. The clubs contribute enormous amounts of money to the region during spring, summer, autumn, and winter! It’s a steady influx of spending.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

  2. Gordon Duprey says:

    Just think of the money it would bring in, if this trail was also for ATV’s. What a boon that would be to the local communities.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 21

    • Caitlin says:

      Sorry – I just clicked a “Thumbs Down” button thinking the button would allow me to display the thread. I am still learning the new format.

      Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. Solidago says:

    Whoa, I generally like this new site format, but hiding Gordon Duprey’s comment because it is unpopular definitely isn’t cool! There should be a separate “flag as inappropriate” button for that.

    Anyway, ATVs are totally different from snowmobiles. Snowmobiles are used during the winter, when there are much fewer people around, and when the ground is frozen and blanketed in a protective layer of snow. Come spring, you can’t tell if even a wetland area has been passed over by a thousand snowmobiles. That certainly isn’t the case with ATVs!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 8

  4. Pete Klein says:

    In a word or two – large to huge.
    Without snowmobiles, the winter economy would be much worse than it is.
    Though I don’t own one, I have never had a problem with them.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  5. This article seems to make the case when the glass is mostly full, it wants to make the case that it is totally empty. The comment that snowmobilers don’t buy gas where they ride, shows a lack of understanding of the sport. A group of us went to Long Lake this winter the only place to ride in state. The reality is, we filled our sleds several times, secured lodging and ate many meals, all within the Park. Your presumption would lead one to believe that Old Forge is closed in the winter.
    I would love for the author to come out and spend a day on the trail with us and learn more about the sport and its economic dynamics.
    Dominic Jacangelo, NYSSA Executive Director

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 4

    • Bill P. says:

      I also will add that while a resident of the Capital Region, we only were able to get out twice this year due to the weather conditions being less than ideal. However, both times we loaded up our three sleds and went to Old Forge. We bought lodging at two different places we enjoy staying at for a couple nights each trip, we ate food locally at the restaurants in town, we filled our sleds numerous times while there with $4.00 plus a gallon fuel, plus filled the truck which consumes fuel. We bought our Old Forge trail passes for three sleds which are not cheap, paid for our insurance, for our registrations and club membersships and I belong to multiple clubs, add in the maintenance costs for the sleds and a repair that is inevitable, plus we visited two of the snowmobile dealers in the area where we bought oil, accessories and apparell. Had there been more snow we would have been there even more and brought friends and family along. All told I still spent over $3,000 this year for two trips to Old Forge most of which was locally spent up there. All that for a less than ideal season. Next year with help from mother nature I can guarantee I will spend that much and much more. Plus I have another kid eligible to start riding next year so that means another sled and all the fun. If I am average for the study at $3k then I can only imagine what some spend and what the industry contributes, it’s a lot of money but worth every penny as it is fun and a great group of people involved in the sport.

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  6. A.A. says:

    How much to backpackers, hikers, and back country users contribute to the local economy? How many of them fuel up outside of town, buy groceries out of town, and then go into the back country, without spending a dollar?

    Not to mention, the Adirondack Park belong to all the people of New York, and not just those who reside in it.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 6

  7. John Warren John Warren says:

    Dominic,

    You couldn’t be farther from the truth.

    I have a pretty full understanding of the sport, without the bias of being the Executive Director of NYSSA. As far as I can tell, I’m one of only two people who has ever written a history of snowmobiling and certainly have written more about snowmobiling in the Adirondacks than anyone. (You can start here: http://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2007/10/adirondack-snowmobile-history-part-one.html)

    I grew up on snowmobiles. My parents owned a snowmobile repair shop and raced (including the grass drags) in the late 1960s through the mid-1980s. My first sled was a 1972 Ski-Doo 250 Elan and I later also raced, mostly junior modified. I’ve spent plenty of time on the trail – possibly more than you.

    Someone of your position should know that your anecdotal story about filling-up with friends is meaningless and also misleading. I can offer a hundred counter-examples.

    Snowmobiling in the Adirondacks, which I am a supporter of in most cases, deserves a better defense than “you don’t know what you’re talking about because you’re not one of us.”

    I hope you’ll take your position more seriously and show us how and why snowmobiling is important to the economy of the Adirondacks using facts, rather than simply trying to distract from the issues by challenging the credibility of the messenger.

    John Warren
    Editor, Adirodnack Almanack

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 7

  8. As a Family Landowner inside the Blue Line and as a snowmobiler, I can tell you personally that I spend money everytime I go riding. My last riding trip to the Adirondacks (Feb 29th – Mar 2nd), over 3 days I spent around $150 in fuel for my Sled, $400 on hotel rooms, meals (3 per day), all in the Park at Trailside. I also bought fuel for my truck that pulls my trailer (another $75). A friend’s truck broke while we were there-got it fixed locally…..

    As A.A. said, what financial impact does a hiker, cross-country skier, snow-shoe-er make in the Park? We come , we stay, we eat, we buy items, we buy souvenirs, we buy gas, we buy parts if our sleds break-all wherever we are-based on the Economic Impact Study, that ‘wherever we are’ is more often than not within the Adirondack Park.

    Gary J. Broderick
    President
    New York State Snowmobile Association

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

    • Snowshoe steve says:

      Gary makes a very good point “We come, we stay, we eat, we drink, we drive, we crash, we die.”

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9

  9. John Warren John Warren says:

    Gary,

    According to the report you commissioned, 28% of snowmobile days were spent in the entire North Country Region, those in the park would be smaller. That’s not “more often than not”. Snowmobilers make plenty of economic contributions, that’s not disputed. Stop with the BS, offer honest appraisals, and stop trying to discount the contributions of other recreationists and you may start to find more friends for the NYSSA.

    If NYSSA wants to do something positive – and based on the comments from you and Dominic, I wonder if that’s true – then focus on the shortcoming I did mention. Particularly the lack of trail condition information.

    And BTW, the last time I checked, I was the only one providing weekly accurate snowmobiling trail condition reports for the Adirondack region to more than 40 radio stations across the North Country. Someday I’ll write a piece about how difficult it is to get that information, something that was also plainly expressed by those who responded to the report you commissioned.

    I’d be glad to meet with you and Dominic to discuss how NYSSA can improve regarding trail conditions information.

    John Warren

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

    • John Buckley says:

      Warren,

      Wow, you are as offensive as you are misinformed. Re-read your article. It’s pessimistically slanted and demonstrates a lack of knowledge that doesn’t compare to your noted snowmobile experience. Your assumptions about locations and impacts are fundamentally flawed.

      While I’m disappointed in the article, your responses are out of line for an editor of an publication that wishes to be taken seriously.

      John Buckley

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

      • John Warren John Warren says:

        John,

        Your assumptions are fundamentally flawed, and your response is out of line, misinformed and offensive.

        See – it’s the internet, anyone can call people names and be offended without offering one bit of counter argument.

        How about you point to the specific facts that you disagree with and offer some facts to counter NYSSA’s numbers? These are NYSSA’s numbers, not mine.

        John Warren

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  10. Mick says:

    I know of 80,000 acres where snowmobiles will be prohibited FOREVER if the state makes a land purchase.

    Visit this petition for more information and sign it if you oppose the purchase deal. Hundreds of snowmobilers will lose their trails. Send the link to all your friends too!

    http://tinyurl.com/7tvu84d

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

    • John Warren John Warren says:

      Mick,

      The repeated posting of your online petition in comments is spammy. Please rein it in.

      John

      Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

      • Mick says:

        John,

        It is important that the other side of the issue is presented in all pertinent topics, wouldn’t you agree? The recreational resource is being removed intentionally, and user groups need to know about that.

        Your publication has consistently supported the preservationist point of view, while ignoring the economic ramifications and private recreational clubs. The clubs use the hundreds of miles of roads extensively for snowmobiling. They are a large user group that should be recognized and supported.

        Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

        • John Warren John Warren says:

          Mick,

          I’m not telling you your perspective can’t be heard. In fact, I help provide the space for your opinions to be heard.

          But, repeatedly posting the same link is spamming. I’m asking you to stop.

          John

          Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  11. Getting accurate snowmobile trail reports for the central Adirondacks from somebody who actually RIDES the trails is as simple as typing: http://www.ilsnow.com

    ilsnow.com draws over 10,000 unique visitors per month in the winter. So, I have been doing my part on keeping people informed on ADK trail conditions. Feel free to post a link onto my site from yours to further spread the good word.

    Numbers can always be slanted to suit the presenter. But from the standpoint of someone who has lived in the Adirondacks most of his life and snowmobiling since the early 1980s, there is no doubt in my mind that snowmobiling props up the winter economy of most ADK businesses.

    Cheers,

    Darrin W. Harr
    http://www.ilsnow.com
    Owner/Operator

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

    • John Warren John Warren says:

      I will confirm that Darrin’s site is the best in the Adirondack region and I consult it every week in winter when compiling the outdoor conditions reports. However, sites most everywhere else in the park are updated a lot less frequently (like once or twice a season), if at all. There are exceptions like http://www.adirondackexperience.com/.

      Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  12. Ann Melious says:

    In Hamilton County, snowmobile revenues, while never as great as summer revenues, provide the margin that allows us to have year-round businesses. Without the influx of outside sledders, the restaurants, our sole grocery store and the non-seasonal lodging properties could all go away. Our piece of $15.7 million, which you imply is chump change, is important to all 4,836 of us. Last winter was an economic disaster we can only hope won’t be repeated for another 30 years.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

    • John Warren John Warren says:

      Ann,

      I completely agree, and didn’t mean to imply it was chump change. According to this study, what we need is better information from snowmobile clubs and local associations about the conditions of their trails. If someone is debating whether to come up or not and they can’t get accurate info on what the trails are like, or if the trail they want to take is even open, we’re at a disadvantage.

      One idea would be to put cheap GPS trackers on the groomers and send their location information to an online map like the ARGIS. That would instantly tell people when and where grooming is happening and be a larger indicator of trail conditions on ungroomed trails.

      I’d be happy to discuss some ideas about this with you or others in Hamilton County.

      John Warren

      Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  13. Dave Redmond says:

    Has a person that lives in the park in Piseco and sees exactly what $’s are spent in every season i can truly say snowmobilers spend easily 4 times the money that hiker, campers or any other group spends in our area.
    Last yr our area suffered one of the worst winters on record and many of the small business are on the verge of closing.
    No one sees all the off shoot things that come from snowmobilers. Camps need to be plowed out for access,builders keep busy opening and closing houses,motels are full,restaurants are packed and the list goes on and on.
    A number of the businesses that are near failure don’t snowmobile but live off the work that snowmobiles provide by just showing up.

    As far as trail condition reporting goes ,i am groomer that posts on local sites that out of area riders check before driving up. Usually when i finish a grooming run and post at 7am i can see somewhere around 300 hits on my post by noon and 500 by the next day
    Give me a spot that i can put the word out to more people and i’d be happy to do it.

    If you really want to see how a small local economy is effected feel free to contact me, TV and news outlets have come and done stories on our area and were amazingly suprised
    We see the effect snowmobilers have so we know it
    Dave Redmond

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    • John Warren John Warren says:

      Dave,

      What sites do you post on? I check 18 sites every week, I want to make sure I’m checking yours.

      John

      Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • dave redmond says:

        Most all of our groomers post on ILSNOW every time we go out. Usually the chamber site weekly
        We do our best to give accurite conditions and by the number of hits/ day people seem to be looking at it before making a decision as to where to ride.
        An average out of town rider will spend at least $150 to get here and back. Add another $150 to $300 depending if they stay over night. Now multiply that times 500 to 1000+ per day on a weekend and it adds up in a hurry.

        I live here and spend $200 to $300 on a weekend rides.

        I started working with a small corner store last yr to compile a couple yrs list of snowmobile income to our small area but this yr i’ve asked them do the same for hikers and $’s spent.
        Both the n/p hiking trail and a snowmobile trail come out 100′ from their parking lot
        Any guess on which group spends more and helps the local economy?
        If i took a educated guess the order would be
        1 snowmobiles 2 hunters/ fisherman 3 locals and way near the bottom 4 campers followed by hikers
        We have the N/P hiking trail and 3 camp sites but they bring everything with them and seldom spend locally
        Dave R

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  14. Pete Newell says:

    I live just outside the blue line, in the Black River Valley. I can snowmobile from my house to either Tug Hill or the Adirondacks, or if there is not enough snow in the valley, I can trailer to either side in 10 minutes. However I generally leave a snowmobile at my parent’s house and do most of my snowmobiling around my home town of Lake Pleasant.

    In a typical year I buy hundreds of dollars of gas and food at local markets, and parts/service at local snowmobile dealers. This year, even though conditions were marginal, I still spent over $100 on gas in addition to over $500 at a local dealer on parts and repair labor.

    Even though I may not be the typical out of town high spending ‘tourist’ snowmobiler I still contribute a lot of money to the Adirondack winter economy every year.

    By contrast, even though I spend a lot of time ‘home’ in the summer I am usually out hiking or swimming. I may buy 10 gallons of gas for my 6 hp outboard and have an occasional meal in town, but it in no way compares to the money I spend in the winter. If I drive somewhere to hike, I may spend a few dollars for gas of food, but typically not much.

    The people spending big bucks in the summer are those with second homes and to a lesser extent the week-long vacationers staying at lakeside motels and resorts. Most of the “serious” hikers, backpackers, and paddlers drive to a trailhead, hike or paddle in, camp, hike out and go home. The scenery and lakes and general Adirondack atmosphere may bring in a lot of visitors and some of them spend a lot of money, but the actual hiking trails on state land and especially those in remote “wilderness” areas are most likely not the reason the big money tourists come.

    One other thing to note is that while the general public pays for maintenance of hiking trails while the hikers pay nothing and generally don’t do much work on the trails either, most snowmobile trail maintenance is financed through the dedicated snowmobile trail fund that all snowmobilers contribute to as part of their registration fee, and most of the trail work is done by volunteers from the snowmobile clubs.

    Snowmobiling is a legitimate traditional activity in the Adirondacks and outside of the Lake Placid it is the only major winter recreational activity that brings in significant tourism income.

    There ought to be more snowmobile trails, not fewer.

    In 1972, The Adirondack State Land Master Plan set a limit of 848.88 miles of snowmobile trail on state land. Since then, the amount of state land has significantly increased. The trail mileage cap should have increased proportionately but it did not. In actual fact, if anything it shrank because any trail that was on former private land which was incorporated in to the Forest Preserve would be added to the miles counted against the cap.

    Studies have shown that snowmobiling has negligible environmental impact but has a major positive economic impact. Many snowmobile trails are hardly discernable in the summer; and certainly snowmobile trails, although they may be wider than pure hiking trails, are in general much less eroded. Take a hike on any popular hiking trail and this will be obvious. There is no reason at all that old roads should not be open to snowmobiles. There is zero impact.

    As far as trail conditions, we all know that they can change very rapidly. Any trail conditions or grooming reports should be considered only general indicators. If you are looking for actual user reports around Speculator and Indian Lake and surrounding areas, ilsnow.com is a good web site.

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  15. Mick says:

    Who is editing the comments? Both my and Gordon’s comments were edited.

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

    • John Warren John Warren says:

      Mick,

      I can assure you that no one is deleting or editing anyone’s comments.

      John

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  16. Ross M. says:

    While I agree with the majority of the original article I cant get over the portion about the purchasing of fuel. I know for myself with our three snowmobiles we get gas at the end of the day whereever is ridable from the trails. This means money spent in counties where we ride… and theres always a line at the pumps. This even is true for this past season where VERY few people would risk their sleds… we rode almost every weekend and filled at Speculator almost every time (read: one of the only places TO ride all season). I believe in my heart that everyone posting arent wrong in their comments and whether or not they are an officer for NYSSA means absolutely nada. They would have just as valid if not more valid opinion than someone who put their big toe in the snow this year and chose to stay indoors. Considering I wasnt sent any sort of questionaire I took this whole article as a “I dont necessarily believe everything I read”…

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  17. Bill R says:

    I too don’t agree about the portion about purchasing fuel. My friend and I went up to Indian Lake every weekend from late January to the first half of March. We fueled up in Inlet every time we rode that way and also fueled up in Indian Lake every weekend!

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  18. Dave says:

    “as a person that lives in the park in Piseco and sees exactly what $’s are spent in every season i can truly say snowmobilers spend easily 4 times the money that hiker, campers or any other group spends in our area.”

    If this were even remotely true, the winter economy in your area would far surpass the summer economy. Is that really the case in Piseco?

    Regardless, in most areas snowmobiling helps boost a slow winter economy, allowing places to operate 4 seasons. That is very important. But suggesting that it is a bedrock of year round economies up here or that it brings more money into the area than all other activities is pure exaggeration… and hard to take seriously.

    In my opinion, snowmobilers would be smart to stop fighting this imaginary battle against hikers, campers, skiers and the like. Besides being a fabricated fight… it is one you aren’t going to win.

    Snowmobiling can can stand on its own merits and coexist with other recreational groups just fine. No need to keep banging the drums of these exaggerated arguments.

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

    • Dave Redmond says:

      this is were you missing the point.
      Piseco and most all of the communities in our are area made up of “seasonal locals” that own camps along our lakes.
      If you take them away you’d have next to nothing to support our summer economy.
      Hikers and campers at the state run or private sites for the most part bring what they need and purchase next to nothing while here.
      snowmobilers, on the other hand, bring next to nothing other than a sled and purchase everything while here.
      It’s also safe to say that 30% of the summer locals also snowmobile.
      Our town supervisor did a great power point presentation on the tracks coming from houses along the lakes showing how many snowmobiles came from everywhere to the center trail down the lakes.
      Snowmobilers don’t fight any imaginary battles with any groups but we sure would like a fair shake when it comes to the rules that govern the park and it’s uses.

      Remember the park is owned by “we the people of ny” and not any one group. Local government should have more say in it’s towns uses of the area it oversees.
      How many law suits have snowmobile clubs waged against the state then look at the “forever wild” groups and the list is never ending.
      Bottom line is the is plenty of park for all groups to enjoy but limiting the ones that spend the most $’s is plain foolish

      Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

      • John Warren John Warren says:

        Dave Redmond,

        “Hikers and campers at the state run or private sites for the most part bring what they need and purchase next to nothing while here.” – I am not aware of this having ever been studied. What evidence actual do you have? Surely you must know how much campers spend, let’s start with that. (Sorry, that was snarky, you don’t know, because it’s never been studied).

        “30% of the summer locals also snowmobile” – nothing in the evidence shows this to be true. Snowmobiliers make up a tiny portion of residents in any community, even those where most snowmobiliers live, which is in the snowmobile belt I described not any Adirondack communities.

        “Snowmobilers don’t fight any imaginary battles” – the response to this post tells me you are wrong about this. Look at the responses here – all focused on me saying that “If all visitors bought gas for their sleds in the North County (an unlikely scenario, since 89% of sled owners live elsewhere) that would add about $15.7 million.”

        I actually mis-wrote that and meant to say “If all visitors bought ALL of the gas for their sleds here” But it doesn’t matter, the first thing that happened from snowmobilers was to disparage the writer of that sentence and then launch into an attack on other backcountry users.

        Since what I wrote, on it’s face is absolutely correct – OBVIOUSLY ALL visitors don’t buy gas here. The response is not only hilarious, but it is direct proof that NYSSA at least, is fighting imaginary battles.

        As far as your fair shake goes, the NYSSA study shows clearly that the vast number of snowmobiliers are very satisfied with the trails and amenities. The only thing they were not satisfied with was the ability to get trail information – it looks like snowmobiliers should look inward as to why that’s the case – you can’t blame hikers for that.

        NYSSA folks can spread this post via e-mail with one of it’s “let’s go get ‘em” messages – but everything here except that one side note about gas purchases COMES FROM A NYSSA REPORT.

        Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

        • Dave Redmond says:

          See John this is were your very wrong.
          I have been conducting a small study at our local store, might i add the only one with in 10 mile odf the DEC camp sites. I started it over a yr ago because of possible trail changes that would limit traffic to the store.
          Feel free to ask the owner which group spends more.

          The NYSSA study asked where you live and since most people list their camp as a second residence they listed there home in the city and not their camp in the ADK’s.
          We have very telling pictures of tracks coming from almost 80% of the homes around our lakes, most are seasonal residents. They live in the albany area but pay someone to make sure their northern house is ready when they arrive. Another one of those off shoot things snowmobilers pay for

          An average sled goes 150 mile or so per tank, this equals about 2/3 of a good riders day. Hence we buy gas here, it not rocket science but common math.

          As far as trail info goes, most riders have the common sence to research the areas they ride. google and area and up comes the info
          If you ride in my area you’d know that ILSNOW is the place to look up the info. It covers a huge area that only the most experianced rider can cover in a day. It usually up to date all the time, Darrin has done a great job with it

          Now with all that being said even my father in law ,who was very important in the ADK mountain club , admitts to the cards and rules being stacked heavily against snowmobilers. He even admits to the fact that the rules need to be modified so there is a more equal use of the park. It also bothers him that “forever wild groups” seem to be turning to “forever suing groups”.
          He always says that the park is owned by everyone and shared equally, not by any one select group.
          He’s also appalled by the conditions of hiking trails compared to snowmobiling trails, they’ve actually become dangerous.

          The NYSSA study varifies the info on the $’s spent and it has risen quite a bit from the last study they did
          I for one would like to see one done by Potsdam on hikers or campers.

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          • John Buckley says:

            Don’t confuse him with facts, he knows them all already. And those apply to all of the Adirondacks, because he speaks for all of us. Even though he’s talking down to and arguing with us locals who can’t know what is happening in our businesses and towns.

            Besides you are part of the “Vast snowmobile conspiracy to ‘let’s go get ‘em’ “.

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          • John Warren John Warren says:

            Dave,

            I appreciate your reading and commenting. I support snowmobiling in most cases. But I think your assessment of the situation is way off the mark.

            There are plenty of places and stores that rely on snowmobilers to support part of their business, but there are far, far more that rely on hikers and paddlers. It’s a mix and we need all recreationists. I reported how important it is. Millions of dollars worth of important.

            The NYSSA study says 89% of snowmobilers in the NY live outside the entire North County area – 20-23% own a second “home, camp, or property that is used primarily for snowmobiling” SOMEWHERE ELSE, not just the Adirondacks. 28% of snowmobile days were spent in the ENTIRE North Country region, not just the Adirondacks.

            Your assertion that 80% of second home owners on your lake is interesting, though it doesn’t mean anything for the rest of the park and it doesn’t make common sense. According to NYSSA snowmobile registrations in New York State peaked at 172,164 in 2003. The average survey respondent owned more than 2.4 sleds. So less than 0.4% of NY residents own a snowmobile, but on your lake it’s 80% – wow. BTW, that number divided by the 28% of snowmobile days spent in the North Country shows that the actual number of snowmobiles used in the Adirondacks is tiny compared to the number of hikers. There are more than 170,000 visitors to the High Peaks alone each year – that’s about the number of all registered snowmobiles in NYS, and they only spent 28% of there time in the entire North Country.

            I already said ILSNOW.com is a great site, but I check 18 sites every week during snowmobiling season. You believe what you want, but NYSSA’s study shows people are far from happy with the availability of trail information. That simply confirms what I’ve experienced over the last two years of doing weekly snowmobiling reports.

            Comparing 19th and early 20th century hiking trails to snowmobile trails, all of which were built in the last 30 years or so, is silly. And as far as dangerous goes, snowmobiling in our area is far more dangerous than hiking. The annual deaths prove that.

            Again, snowmobile registrations in New York State peaked at 172,164 in 2003 – if you think that the few lousy winters we’ve had since then and the declining numbers of snowmobilers in this state means we’ve made a lot more money locally, I’m not sure how to persuade you otherwise. Last winter’s disaster (which all the studies I’ve seen indicate we’re likely to experience more often) set that number of dollars made here way back. Besides, there are NO studies of Adirondack snowmobiling that I’m aware of to even seriously make that comparison.

            I agree that we need economic impact studies of hikers, bikers, paddlers, climbers, motor boaters, hunters, and anglers. With all the mis-information out there, I doubt it would put any of this to rest. And besides, most people are not just snowmobiliers, or hikers, they do a variety of things and they come here to do them because of wild place opportunities we offer.

            Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

          • John Warren John Warren says:

            John Buckley,

            They aren’t my facts, they are from the New York State Snowmobile Association.

            And by the way, I live here.

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          • Dave Redmond says:

            John,
            it may be the uniqueness of the area which i live , we have snow when other don’t and it stays longer tan other areas
            on the n/p hiking trail about 350 people sign in each yr and conversely 350 / sat or sunday ride the airport snowmobile trail that paralels it.We’re a very high traffic area because of these excellent conditions.
            This is why so many $’s are spent directly in my area.

            I believe last yr 4 or 5 people were killed snowmobiling in the state and i think that is fairly close to the number of hikers that died in the woods. As a rule a small percentage of any group will die whether it’s hunting,boating or anything else.

            Another huge difference between all groups is we pay into a trail fund. Boaters pay ,fishermen pay, hunters pay, but what about hikers?
            If the state imposed a $15 hiking fee would anyone pay it or would hiking drop off?

            Perhaps the hiking trails would improve to passable because in my area they are beyond poor, even the new t-lake trail is poor at best. Yes a fairly new hiking trail that replaced the old trail at the end of my road.

            And yes there are a number of snowmobile trails stated to close in my area because Lakes that were ridden for over 40 yrs are now being considered unsafe. The state wants to build snowmobilers a new trail around them and believe it or not we’re fighting tooth and nail for them not to.
            we’re happy with what we have already as far as lakes go.

            In our state trainings they always say snowmobile trails should have the characteristic of a hiking trail but it truely should be the other way around.
            Walk Panther mountain trail, it dangerous at best. The N/P trail is nearly as bad from piseco north. These are real, not made up thoughts facts

            Maybe i live in a area that most of the 28% ride but the state should do much more to promote snowmobiling.
            Remember this was a spampling of the 170,000 + in the survey not based on one area.
            Piseco, Speculator, and Lake pleasant area are well known in the state for snowmobiling , that’s why my numbers are what they are. Not made up but real numbers for my area.
            I see it from one of the main spots for riding in the state

            Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  19. The snowmobiling community engages in all battles, real or imagined, because it is always under attack. I respect that people come up here to use the Park for hiking, kayaking, canoeing….etc. But many of the people who do the hiking, kayaking, canoeing don’t extend the same respect to snowmobiling.

    The Adirondack Park is large enough for all to enjoy. There are hundreds of thousands of acres of private and public land in the Park where snowmobiling is NOT permitted if a person wants to hike on trails “undefiled” by snowmobiles. But the truth of the matter is that in most cases, you’d be hard pressed to see where snowmobiles actually rode in the previous winter. Many hiking trails are seriously eroded to the point of being dangerous, but that doesn’t seem to get as much press.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

    • John Warren John Warren says:

      Darrin,

      I just don’t see all this disrespect of snowmobiliers you’re talking about. If this site is any indication, the exact opposite appears to be true. Every time economics is discussed here someone will tell us that paddlers, hikers, and campers, don’t contribute to the economy. In fact, when the first commenter in this post suggested that ATVs should be allowed to share snowmobile trails, he was roundly disagreed with. I happen to think that some snowmobile trails should be opened to ATVs.

      As far as snowmobiles having extended access on Public Lands, it’s happening all the time. I might even argue, just from what I see in my job as editor – because like most of these issues, no one has ever studied it – that more snowmobile trails are created in the Adirondacks every year than new hiking trails. I can’t think of a new hiking trail established on state lands recently (aside from the Poke O re-route), but new snowmobile trails have been established in the past few years in the Moose River Plains and Wilmington Wild Forests, on former Finch lands in Newcomb, in Scaroon Manor Area in Schroon Lake, and on some of the other easements lands.

      The larger question is this – do we as New Yorkers, and citizens of the Eastern United States, want to set aside areas where we can escape roads and the sounds of motors once in a while? I think it’s pretty clear most people do. As it stands now, the most remote place in the Adirondacks is just 6 miles from a road. That tells me two things – motorized access to the Adirondack Park is relatively widespread, and it’s probably not necessary to extent is further into the remaining wild lands. It has absolutely nothing to do with hiking on trails that snowmobilers don’t use – hikers don’t say, “oh this trail is used by snowmobilers, that ruins my experience”. They say, “oh I can hear that road or vehicle / ATV / Snowmobile over there, and was hoping to get away from that – next time I’ll go out west to hike / paddle / camp”.

      Don’t get me wrong, I think snowmobiling is a valuable part of our economy, and I’d like to see some better hamlet connectors, shared with ATVs, mountain bikes, and hikers, that are built with ecology in mind. I’d like NYSSA to tell us when new trails have been opened, but that would end their ability to be the put-upon party which they use to rally the troops to get what THEY want.

      Snowmobilers in fact have special access because they run in winter and so have less impact. Users of ATVs and other off-road vehicles would love to have the access snowmobilers have – and in most cases it’s snowmobilers that keep them out.

      And by the way, the hikers damaging trails analogy is a little silly. Many of those trails you’re talking about were established in the 19th century, snowmobile trails were established in the 1970s at the earliest. Give them 100 years and see what erosion does.

      Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

      • John,

        The lack of respect for snowmobiling I’m talking about doesn’t refer to anything I have seen with your article. I was referring to disrespect that I have seen and experienced elsewhere, not anything I have seen on this site. I was attempting to explain why your article has experienced so much passionate feedback.

        Erosion on snowmobile trails will never match what is seen on hiking trails because snowmobiles exert far less pressure per square inch than hikers on boots. That is a proven scientific fact.

        Like I said before: There is room for all here. Go out and enjoy it….

        Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

      • Pete Newell says:

        John,

        I am 100% with you that we want to set aside areas where we can escape roads and the sounds of motors.

        However there is a big difference between summer and winter.

        First, in general, there are maybe 5% as many people out in the winter as the summer so there are less people to disturb.

        Second, stock legal snowmobiles are not very loud. NYSSA has promoted enforcement of exhaust noise limits.

        Third, most winter users do not go that far in to the backcountry. It is unreasonable to close off all remote areas when there are virtually no users to “disturb.” I have never seen anyone in Perkins Clearing very far back from the parking lot at Mason Lake for example. I have never seen any X-C tracks from the Pillsbury or Spruce Lake trailheads. (I am sure that I am one of the very few who have actually skied a loop in to and across Cedar Lakes and Pillsbury, and it was a long but doable trip only because I could snowmobile to the trailhead.)

        Snowmobiles are not the real problem with respect to noise. The noise problem is many orders of magnitude worse in the summer. I’ve been over 2 miles from the nearest highway and still heard the noise from illegally loud exhaust on motorcycles, boats, and other vehicles. If you want peace and quiet, let’s do something about that.

        I think you are off base regarding new snowmobile trails compared to hiking trails. First, there are thousands of mikes of well-established hiking trails on state land, many of which have been around – as you point out – since the 19th or early 20th century. There are only 766 actual miles of snowmobile trail on state land (APA figure).

        You cite some new snowmobile trails being established but no new hiking trails. It may be true that there are no new hiking trails, but none have been closed either.

        As a snowmobiler for over 40 years I can tell you there are many instances of snowmobile trails which have been closed and many other areas, such as seasonal or former logging roads, which while not numbered trails, used to be open for snowmobiling.. I am not sure of what new trail in the Moose River Plains you are talking about. There is a proposed trail to Raquette Lake which has not been built, but the UMP closes many miles of existing trails on seasonal roads. The proposed new trail mileage does not make up for the miles lost.

        Another difference is that just like there are hikers who like to bushwhack, there are many of us who love ‘traditional’ snowmobiling which was and is not about just riding on groomed trails but rather going to places that are not just practical to get to any other way in any season. As a hiker or skier, there are no restrictions as to where I can go, trail or not. But as a snowmobiler, most of the state land is off-limits.

        The fact is that Wilderness, which is 51% of state land, is totally off-limits to snowmobiles. Now the new DEC plan places further restrictions on where trails can be in Wild Forest. On top of this, snowmobiles are supposed to stay on trails while hikers and skiers can go anywhere.

        Snowmobilers and NYSSA have accepted that well over 50% of state land is closed to us, but some non-motorized users can’t accept that they only have exclusive access to more than half. That is the difference.

        Out of about 2.52 million acres of state land, snowmobile trails actually occupy about 928 acres based on a calculation of average width 10 feet x 766 actual miles x 5280 ft./mile / 43560 square ft. per acre. This is .041% of state land.

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        • John Warren John Warren says:

          Pete.

          Just a quick reply to this new comment before I head out the door. These are a lot of qualifiers. Winter is quieter, snowmobiles are quieter, etc. but the bottom line is, it’s not for you to decide what’s quiet and what isn’t. If I’m that one backcountry skier who has to hear snowmobiles all day, that matters to me. I believe all users should be accommodated, and generally are – which is why trail satisfaction was very high in the survey.

          I understand traditional snowmobiling, grew up on it. Groomed trails are a new phenomenon, which is why there are relatively few, not some conspiracy to deprive snowmobiliers of their rights.

          Snowmobile trails may occupy just 1,000 acres as you suggest, but snowmobile impact – for example noise, the major concern of other users groups – occupies a LOT more. Does it compare to hiking trails, probably not, but as you know, there are a LOT more hikers.

          I believe that each trail case should be considered individually on it’s own merits, not on some grand idea that “we don’t have enough”, or “they don’t like us”.

          The study shows that snowmobiliers are pretty happy with the trail system, which thanks in part to environmentalists, is perhaps the best system east of the Mississippi.

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          • Pete Newell says:

            John,

            I totally agree that snowmobile and every other kind of noise should be minimized, not just inthe Adirondacks but ewverywhere. The rules regarding allowable levels are pretty clear and NYSSA has made it a priority to deal with those who break the rules. I think the fine for loud snowmobile exhaust is probably higher than for motor vehicles.

            I also agree that there should be places where you don’t ever hear a snowmobile or motorboat any other man-made noise. And there are many such places.

            It would be nice if there were more but there has to be a balance. Maybe things are leveling out but we as Adirondack snowmobilers react the way we do because we’ve been burned several times in the past with trail closures on state or state-controlled land.

            Yes I recognize that the inpact of a snowmobile trail is wider than the trail itself, but even if the impact covers 100 times the actual trail area that is still only a small fraction of total state land.

            The snowmobile trail system as it currently exists is pretty good. However if you look at many of the UMPs or proposed UMPs you see they call for closing or “reconfiguring” of many of those trails. Yes there are a few needed “community connector” trails that are proposed to be built or upgraded but a lot of other trails are proposed to be closed. For example some of the nice secondary trails on old roads in Lower Areitta to Spectacle and Dexter Lakes.

            We also have restrictions on trail grooming and maintenance that are found no where else in the state and maybe nowhere else in the counrty. I”m definitely not in favor of making Adirondack trails into roads like on Tug Hill and elsewhere, but some of the restrictions seem to us to be just put in place to make it more difficult, and it is reasonable to feel that is just want the extreme environmentalists want. There is no spirit of compromise.

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        • John Warren John Warren says:

          Pete,

          I’d like to know if things are leveling out, how many trails are opening and how many closing. We need more trail information all the way around.

          I’ve been pushing the Adirondack Regional GIS project as the place to track this stuff. It would be great if we could look at the changes. For example, you cite a lot of closures, but are they balanced by all the new conservation easement lands? Not typically having been areas with hiking trails, I believe the easements brought quite a bit of new snowmobiling trails.

          Have a great weekend.

          JW

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          • Pete Newell says:

            I can’t comment on all the easement lands.

            Some new trails may have been opened such as the one from Indian Lake To Newcomb.

            In other cases, an easement may have made existing trails available for use without having to pay for them and negotiate yearly. I think this is the case with the trail from Indian Lake to Cedar River Flow. That would not be considered a new trail.

            However our experience with the Perkins Clearing and Speculator Tree Farm easement (former IP lands) is that as soon as the state got control, areas which we had been riding for a long time (in some cases the last 40 years)were closed. We have been fighting for several years to get some of the trails reopened.

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  20. Judith E. Harper says:

    I must say I’m disappointed in quite a number of the comments I’ve read here, who have strayed so far from the purpose and goals of the study reported.

    A study that investigates and then reports the facts and figures of the economic impacts of snowmobiling on the region is a vital document to the towns and hamlets of the North Country.

    Such a document gives community leaders the facts they need to determine what actions to take to correct impediments that have prevented snowmobilers from spending money in the North Country AND to improve services to snowmobilers and thereby increase revenues coming from the snowmobile “industry.”

    For the life of me, I don’t understand how hikers and kayakers ever got into this conversation. The study does not say that hikers and kayakers spend more, although a similar study researching the economic impact of each recreational activity would be a boon for community planners to maximize revenues that are crucial for our economic survival.

    Judith E. Harper

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    • John Warren John Warren says:

      I couldn’t agree more. The one clear point I tried to make was an area the study shows we can improve upon: providing better information on when trails are opened, groomed, and what the overall conditions are to attract more visitors.

      I presented a clear, cheap and easy plan in the comments (putting GPS on groomers) to improve trail information this study says is needed.

      By the look of the responses, snowmobilers are more interested in playing the victim. That’s unfortunate. NYSSA in particular should lead the effort for better trail info.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

      • John Buckley says:

        John,

        Your complete lack of understanding of the role of NYSSA and each snowmobile club underlines that your a rider, not a snowmobiler. Your contribution to snowmobiling appears to be having paid for a registration and complained that you don’t have information because you are not involved.

        The great irony if that what you “propose” has already been undertaken by the volunteers that maintain the multi-use public trails you don’t seem to enjoy or appreciate the effort it takes for volunteers to maintain.

        been

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 7

        • Jim Rolf says:

          Mr. Warren,
          in your article obviously full of hidden negativity towards snowmobiling (which your replies now show to be true), you claim to know all about snowmobiler’s actions as well as the fuel tax rebates which snowmobilers can apply for. Maybe gathering actual numbers before assuming to know the figures and then implying in all of your replies that your opinion is correct would help you in getting your claimed intentions across? You see, your opinionated statement “If all visitors bought gas for their sleds in the North County (an unlikely scenario, since 89% of sled owners live elsewhere) that would add about $15.7 million. In the Adirondack Park? In a winter like last winter? Who knows.” is further proof of your inaccuracies by your claim of “snowmobilers are eligible for a rebate of highway fuel taxes paid for snowmobile fuel, which may skew that number (of $56 million Statewide)”. I’ll give you the factual numbers right from the NYS Taxation and Finance Dept. In 2011, there were 18 refunds issued that totaled $13,447.00. Yup, that really skews that $56 million dollars worth of snowmobile fuel sales Statewide.

          Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  21. Pete Newell says:

    Dave says: “In my opinion, snowmobilers would be smart to stop fighting this imaginary battle against hikers, campers, skiers and the like.”

    Snowmobilers are not fighting an imaginary battle against hikers and skiers. Many of us are also hikers and campers. We have nothing against any of those activities. We do not want to see hiking trails and campsites closed.

    By contrast, many of the hikers and skiers are fighting a very real ideological battle against snowmobilers, and are constantly pushing for more restrictions on snowmobiling including closing off more areas to snowmobiles. As Darrin rightly points out, the snowmobiling community engages in all battles, real or imagined, because it is always under attack.

    The new DEC snowmobile plan places further restrictions on the areas in which snowmobiling is allowed. Yet the environmentalist propaganda implies that it would allow snowmobiles “virtually anywhere.”

    In the DEC snowmobile plan, the environmentalists have succeeded in getting a new pseudo-classification of “remote interior” of Wild Forest lands (arbitrarily defined as more than 2 miles from a “motorized corridor”) and language that calls for “reconfiguration the trail system” to have trails removed from the Remote Interior.

    In just one particular instance, this resulted in a UMP with the proposed closing of 3 trail segments that have existed for over 40 years and the construction of 13 miles of new trail to replace them. How does this make environmental or economic sense?

    The environmentalists didn’t even like this, so they sued.

    How many lawsuits have environmentalist groups brought against the state? How many has the New York State Snowmobile Association brought? As far as I know, the ratio is infinity because NYSSA has never sued the state.

    Have there been any significant new restrictions on where hiking or cross country skiing is allowed? I don’t think so.

    Snowmobilers have nothing against hikers and skiers unless they are anti-snowmobilers.

    John, your statement that there is no place more than 6 miles from a road might be technically correct if you drew a straight line from the nearest road, but I don’t think it is an accurate depiction of the Adirondacks. It takes a very long hike to get in to places – like West Canada Lakes for instance, and that is from a trailhead at the end of a seasonal dirt road (not on state land) which is about 10 miles from the nearest highway.

    As far as economic impact of hikers and campers vs. snowmobilers – What is the spending ratio of the average snowmobiler to the average non-motorized user? John you are right, a study should be done.

    Yes, overall, summer tourists contribute more to the Adirondack economy but that is in large part because of shear numbers. There are a lot more people in the Adirondacks in the summer than in the winter, so the economic impact is bound to be greater.

    You have the high-spending hikers/campers who will stay at the most expensive hotels, eat at the expensive restaurants, and so on. Sure, they spend a lot of money. I’ll bet most of these folks are not spending a week in the backcountry, they are taking short day hikes.

    Many more hikers are either drive in-drive out day hikers or maybe overnight campers. They bring their gear and their lunch with them. If they stay at a state campsite then they pay the state a fee some of which trickles down to locals in the form of wages. If they stay in the woods they pay nothing.

    The serious backcountry user in the Adirondacks most likely spends on a daily basis maybe 1% as much as the serious snowmobiler. I am also guessing here, but I’ll bet the average cross-country skier and snowshoer does not spend nearly as much as the average snowmobiler.

    Dave Redmond makes a point about spending at a local store. This is only one data point and it is not a scientific study, but it is still a valid point of reference. I am sure that this situation is repeated in many other places. By the way, this store is also on the N-P trail and within a few miles of other popular hikes. If hikers were on average spending all kinds of money, then this store should be seeing it. But they are not.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

    • X2

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    • John Warren John Warren says:

      Peter,

      Thanks for your well considered comments.

      I disagree primarily with two things.

      First, that “hikers and skiers are fighting a very real ideological battle against snowmobilers”. Hikers and skiers, and ATVers and paddlers, and every user, are people fighting amongst each other for a share of a limited resource. 6 miles (or 10) matters to people who aren’t sitting on a two-stroke motor and they want to protect that sense of motorless solitude. ATVers want to ride on snowmobile trails, but you don’t claim some monolithic ATV-Snowmobile ideological battle. Many environmentalists (whatever that means in this day and age when nearly everyone has an environmental conciseness) are snowmobilers too, and they still seek to protect their quiet places. some like to point to one or two battles were differing users are at odds and claim environmentalists are the problem, those same folks never seem to appreciate that a place like the Moose River Plains wouldn’t exists if environmentalists hadn’t protected them. I believe the new Newcomb trail runs on land the Nature Conservancy bought to keep from development.

      And second, you acknowledge that we don’t have any studies to indicate what differing users spend, and then you launch into a theory that claims that “the serious backcountry user in the Adirondacks most likely spends on a daily basis maybe 1% as much as the serious snowmobiler.” Can we just agree on the simple notion that we don’t know and not throw around wild numbers like 1%? You don’t know. I don’t know.

      Besides, the whole concept of how much a user spends and what that means for the Adirondacks is pretty damn complicated. As you pointed out, if there are vastly more hikers, and they obviously bring more money to the Adirondacks. Painting them as cheapskates seems like sour grapes.

      I happen to believe that most people who come to the Adirondacks come here because they went hiking here once when they were young with a Boy Scout Troop, a summer camp, family, whatever. So in my theory hiking becomes an all the more important economic engine because it’s a gateway drug to learning to paddle, motorboat, snowmobile, hunt, fish, etc. But honestly, I don’t know, so I don’t just make up a number based on the store where I live and start making claims. OR worse, as the TWO leaders of NYSSA did, start acting like someone I disagree with is just ill informed and use my vacation as proof of larger economic forces.

      There is no reliable evidence (in other words, not just someone saying that it’s so) that I’m aware of that shows how much any user group spends in the Adirondacks (not even this study), or how the spending might be related. Here on Loon Lake I hear snowmobiliers complaining about ice fishermen who mess up their “trail” down the middle of the lake – should I start claiming that ice fisherman bring in more money to the economy than snowmobiliers because my local store Crossroads does a lot more business with anglers than snowmobiliers? Of course not.

      Stick to what we do know, and both of us have very little to say about who spends what.

      Again, thanks for your thoughtful comments.

      John

      Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

      • Pete Newell says:

        John,

        I don’t agree with your comment on the Moose River Plains. MRP would not exist as the accessible outdoor recreation resource it is if it had never been logged and therefore all those logging roads had not been built. Yes, it might have remained wonderful old growth forest, but access would have been very limited and it would not exist as it is now for people to use.

        Yes, environmentalists saved the area from being flooded by the Higly Dam in the 40’s, but that is only part of the story. If the more extreme environmentalists had their way, when the state acquired the land it would have been locked up as “Wilderness” with very little if any access.

        When Gould Paper sold the land, a separate deed for the roads prevented them from becoming part of the forest preserve and therefore from becoming classified as Wilderness where no motor vehicles are allowed.

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        • John Warren John Warren says:

          It is part of the story, but a big part. Haha.

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  22. Mick says:

    John, it’s about time that someone, or some group, comes up with some expenditure figures. My club spends A LOT of money in three towns, and those towns have adopted resolutions supporting the club. DEC is prepared to close down two dozen clubs that spend enormous sums in the region.

    All this should be quantified.

    The true costs need to be analyzed.

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  23. [About 80-90% felt that the State’s Trail Development and Maintenance Fund should be privatized and controlled by “snowmobilers themselves.”]

    Why doesn’t that surprise me? The State likes to raid that fund like the cookie jar…..

    Darrin

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  24. Pete Newell says:

    John,

    I am glad you reported on this study. The study shows the overall significant positive economic impact of snowmobiling on the the economy.

    I am sure that if you ask most Adirondack business owners outside of maybe one or two resort areas like Lake Placid, they will tell you that without the winter income they probably would not be able to stay open in the winter, the amount of business thay get from other winter tourism would not be enough; and maybe they would not be able to stay in business at all.

    I admit I have no hard numbers on what any other group spends. I am just basing my comments on what I do when snowmobiling vs. hiking or x-c skiing, and what I see friends or other groups I have gone with doing.

    A formal study ought to be done. Even an informal study could be done by having area businesses survey their customers by asking a few questions such as what the customer came totha area for (hiking, camping, boating, family vacation, etc..) and then recording approximately how much they spent at the business, etc. I think this could be done farily inexpensively.

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  25. Jim Rolf says:

    John, one issue being emphasized by you is “trail conditions”. Those in the clubs responsible for maintaining trails know that TRAIL CONDITIONS CHANGE ALL THE TIME, HOURLY EVEN, based on traffic, temperature, and new snow or type of snow that has fallen and/or is falling. Having GPS units mounted in the groomers will indeed tell all where the groomer(s) just went. It will NOT help out with the very important condition that freshly groomed trails need… SET-UP TIME! Again, those of us in-the-know about this important factor in keeping smooth trails smooth for longer time-frames already comprehend this. So, even WHEN all NYS grooming equipment is outfitted with GPS tracking units, they will NOT be set-up so that riders will be able to find out where they currently are, as this will lead them to ride on these freshly manicured trails and “tear them up too soon”.
    In reality, especially in these times of advanced technology, if one wants to find out trail conditions for any location in NYS, all one has to do is enter that county name along with the words “snowmobile trail conditions” and one will most likely find quite a lot of good info. While having conditions in one site would be great, accuracy is the key. Since snowmobile trails are maintained mostly by volunteers, getting that accurate info from them onto other’s sites is not always easy (as you have alluded to). But again, current GPS locations will not tell one anything other than where the groomer is right now or has been recently.

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    • Dave Redmond says:

      Jim is 100% correct, set up time for a freshly groomed trail is what keeps them smooth for hrs. having traffic on them right behind a groomer is almost counter productive. It takes hrs for a trail to settle in and freeze up under the right conditions.
      It’s not always easy to get volunteers out at the proper times to groom but we try our best and if we make a mistake or miss a run it doesn’t take long to hear about it.

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      • John Warren John Warren says:

        Jim and Dave – it has nothing to do with having people right behind the groomers. It’s about telling people the extend of ride-able conditions, of which where the groomers have been is the leading indicator. Of course conditions change, but people who do not live here and are not “in the know” – the people businesses here want to attract – want and need to know if they should even bother making the trip, or what to generally expect.

        And the argument that you can put “snowmobile trail conditions” and the county into a search and find current trail conditions is simply false in most cases. Clearly you have never done that. I’m pretty adept at internet research and I follow every conceivable trail conditions report during the winter for the Adirodnack region. I report the general conditions for the entire region every week, as best I can. If I remember this conversation when winter rolls around, I’ll prove you are wrong about this. It will be easy to do.

        People in the survey said that getting trial conditions information is the thing they need most. We would do the clubs and the sport a favor if we’d listened to them instead of being defensive about it.

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        • Type “indian lake snowmobile trail conditions” on Google and you’ll get to ilsnow.com as your top listing.

          It doesn’t get any easier than that :)

          Darrin

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          • John Warren John Warren says:

            That’s great for Indian Lake, but the VAST MAJORITY of other communities don’t have anything near that kind of information.

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          • Then nobody can accuse me of not doing my part to keep people informed of snowmobile trail conditions for the south-central Adirondack area.

            With the internet explosion, I am surprised that snowmobile clubs haven’t been more proactive in reporting trail conditions on their websites. In time, I think that will change. Surveys do a good job in showing what needs to be improved.

            Darrin

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