Grant, fundraising helps club purchase trail groomer

Shown is the new track groomer and drag equipment recently purchased by the Nick Stoner Trailers club in Caroga. (Photo submitted)

CAROGA — Nick Stoner Trailers Snowmobile Club was awarded a grant, which along with additional fundraising, helped the club purchase new track grooming equipment.

The snowmobile club purchased a track groomer that is a 2017 Snow Rabbit SR3 demo model, a diesel engine with 99 horsepower, along with a 7 by 14 foot drag — made by a company called Arrowhead. It weighs 1,250 pounds and is pulled behind the Snow Rabbit. The track groomer pulls the drag which has hydraulic adjustments on it for cutting height.

“When the trails get bumpy, you drag the machine across and it cuts the high spots of the bumps off and then it fills the low spots.” said Craig Ivancic, president of Nick Stoner Trailers. “It also has a packing system on it to pack the snow.”

The new equipment was delivered in January and has already been used. Ivancic said they have groomed about 10 miles of the club’s trail system so far and have been training people to operate the equipment.

“It’s been working great. We’re very happy with the choice. We were originally looking at tractors and realized they were too big,” Ivancic said. “This is a smaller unit and it fits our trails perfectly. It’s doing a better job than our older equipment because it’s so much bigger.”

Shown is the fleet of track grooming equipment by the Nick Stoner Trailers club in Caroga. (Photo submitted)

He said the older equipment is only 4 by 8 foot drags with the age of the equipment ranging from four to 13 years old — oldest being 2006 and the newest being a 2015. Ivancic said the old equipment is class E and the new equipment recently purchased is class B. He said since their trails are in the Adirondack Park, there are regulations to follow.

Total cost of the new grooming equipment was $133,438 — the groomer cost $120,938 and the drag cost $12,500.

To cover the costs, the snowmobile club applied for and was awarded the Recreation Trails program grant which is a reimbursement grant, so the grant covered 80 percent of the cost — $106,750 — and the club had to raise 20 percent — $26,688. Ivancic said the grant program goes every three years for not-for-profit organizations and is managed by the state, but federally funded through fuel and highway taxes.

Nick Stoner Trailer initially began planning to purchase new equipment in 2015, Ivancic said. He said they initially looked into buying a compact tractor with track kits. They also began fundraising in 2015 as well by doing cash raffles.

It was in January 2016 when they went to a Salisbury Ridge Runner’s grooming show, they decided to go with the Snow Rabbit because the tractor wouldn’t be practical for their trail system because it would be too big and heavy.

In March, Ivancic said he began the grant process which included getting prequalified to do business with the state and then going into a consolidated funding application.

By August 2016 they were prequalified; by April 2017 the grant cycle opened and he began the consolidated funding application and submitted the application by July 2017. In December 2017 they were approved for the grant so they went out to bid in fall of 2018, which a company named GetSno won the bid and the new equipment arrived in January.

“For me the grant process was new. I’ve never written a grant before and I just sat down and went though it step-by-step, process-by-process,” Ivancic said.

He said there were only seven snowmobile clubs in the state that were awarded the grant out of a possible 200 clubs, but that does not mean every club applied for the grant.

“Without he grant there is no way we would ever afford that kind of money, reduce hours to maintain trails, provides better tail surface as well as a safer trail surface than the club’s smaller existing class E equipment,” Ivancic said. “When trails got really rough with small equipment, we’d have to take multiple passes over that trail, with new equip, we go down it once and it will make it smooth and safe with one pass.”

Ivancic said some of their other goals of the new equipment other than just smoothing trails was too help with winter tourism in Caroga, increase membership, support the town’s Comprehensive Plan, better trails, easier to groom and less hours spent on maintaining the trails.

He said membership has gone up by about 30 members from last year. There were 177 members and there are now over 200.

“We’re hoping it increases the club membership by just providing an improved trail system,” Ivancic said. “Better trails, better quality and hopefully more people ride. It increases membership as well as increasing winter tourism. We wanted it to help establish Caroga Lake as a year-round tourist attraction. Tourism drops greatly after the summer season, so we’re hoping to draw in winter-type tourists.”