A Letter to the Editor in the Feb. 26 Tomahawk Leader:
Imagine no snowmobilers to buy snowmobiles, parts, accessories, gas and extras at gas stations, or groceries for cottages, food at restaurants and supper clubs or lodging at motels and resorts, purchasing real estate, or maybe vehicles, hardware to maintain and repair equipment and/or cottages or shopping at downtown stores. Snowmobilers spend money … a lot of money!
Many can remember what Tomahawk was like before snowmobiling. Resorts, bars, supper clubs, stores closed for the winter. Employment dropped to nothing, many locals left for the season. Businesses just tried to survive, some taking out loans to sustain their businesses through the winter months.
All the benefits snowmobiling provides to this community are free of charge by the non profit snowmobile clubs and their members. They establish and maintain trails, linking together with other communities, forming endless trails throughout the state, Midwest and the snow areas of the country and Canada.
This is not done without a lot of hard work and costs. Countless hours are spent removing brush, cutting and removing downed trees, cutting in rerouted trails, building and maintaining bridges, patching washouts and repairing driveways. To make sure the trails can function safely, thousands of signs are posted on stakes for good visibility. Arrows, stop signs, caution signs and directional signs provide help to travel from community to community and mark the trails to many businesses for refreshments and food, gas and scenic sights.
The state of Wisconsin relieves land owners from liability for allowing their land to be used to complete the trail systems, however, snowmobile club’s members deal directly with landowners for the permission to use their property during the snowmobile season and provide security of that land in off season by installing and maintaining gates. Trails, such as the Hiawatha and Bearskin, are also used by hikers, joggers and cyclists the rest of the year.
Funding to provide these trails come from annual snowmobile club member’s dues, donations and fund raisers, such as raffles for cash, snowmobiles, ATVs and various other items. The Northwoods Passage Snowmobile Club holds an early spring fund raising banquet. Income also includes money from the state of Wisconsin for maintaining and grooming these trails. These funds come from the snowmobile registration program.
On an average, Northwoods Passage Snowmobile Club (for example) spends about $150,000 a year and has nearly half a million dollars worth of equipment and property. They groom about 300 miles of trails in the greater Tomahawk area, employ a full time mechanic and maintain their shop and grounds year round. It is difficult to raise these funds year after year. Support from many in the community is great and much appreciated, however it can’t be said for all organizations in our town. The winter season seems to have very little importance, as it was not even included on the new Tomahawk Logo. Much more money is given to private, for profit businesses than to non profit snowmobile clubs.
Should the volunteers who run these snowmobile clubs decide to quit and the trail system in this area fail, just one year would show the loss to the community. The weeds, brush and trees would take over. The snowmobiling public would stop coming to this area or pass it by enroute to participating communities. Should the Tomahawk community be more supportive? You bet!
Northwoods Passage Snowmobile Club officers and Board of Directors, Bob McGinnis, president; Paul Werner, vice president; Bunny Kluka, secretary; Joan Kloss, treasurer; Ken Kurtzweil, Don Linnean, Bill Kluka, Tim DeBels, Kim DeBels, Scott Meland, Sherry Schehr, directors