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Local snowmobile clubs anticipate an active winter on the trails

The snowmobiles are tuned and ready to ride but with the COVID-19 mandates, will they be able to hit the trails this winter?

Representatives of the Bleecker Snow Rovers and Nick Stoner Trailers say “Yes.”

“I really don’t see it having any effect on our riders,” Paul Cosselman, president of the Bleecker Snow Rovers said. “When we are riding there shouldn’t be any problems. If people stop to at a business to eat or something, that would be the only time it might be a factor.”

Craig Ivancic, president of the Nick Stoner Trailers agreed, saying “Nick Stoner Trailers has not received any official communications regarding COVID-19 mandates so far. Most of our club gatherings take place at local restaurants or municipal facilities. If a gathering were to take place, we would have to obey the mandates in effect for those facilities.”

While the clubs wait for the weather to turn colder and frost to harden the trails, they have been trying to keep up with the maintenance to keep the riders safe.

“We have to wait a couple of weeks for hunting season to end before we go in the woods,” Cosselman said. “We maintain about 50 miles and I know there are some trees down that will need to be cleared.”

Ivancic said the Nick Stoner Trailers have been active on the in the offseason.

“The trails are in good shape,” he said. “We have had multiple workdays and great volunteer turnout to clear away fallen trees, trim low hanging branches, repair bridges, improve water drainage, and mark private landowners’ property. The club’s volunteers started working on some of the trails as early as April once last seasons snow melted away and the ground was dry. Our trail system is composed of state-owned land and private landowners we usually do not work the trails during the summer months due to the warmer temperatures and annoying insects.

“Once we get into September we try to get as much done as possible to not impact hunting season. Nick Stoner Trailers maintains approximately 30 miles of trails our trails system is made up of community connector trails called corridors which allow travel to neighboring towns. We also have secondary trails which provide access to important infrastructure such as parking, food, fuel, and shopping. Also, we have NYSSA (New York State Snowmobile Association) club trails which are shorter trails that allow travel within the “downtown” area of Caroga near the golf course and the Caroga Arts Collective building formerly known as Sherman’s. The club has 36 private landowners who give permission each year for continued use of the trails. Without the private landowner’s permission, the trail system in Caroga would not allow riders to travel from the north end of town to the south end. The club would like to remind all riders to stay on the marked trails and ride respectfully so that we do not jeopardize losing usage of a private landowner’s property.”

The clubs have had to postpone or cancel some of their annual fundraisers and club parties.

“We have canceled two of its indoor events,” Ivancic said. “Last March we had a luncheon planned at Vrooman’s Restaurant that was canceled and just this past week I met with the club’s board of directors to decide the fate of the Christmas Party and Landowners Appreciation Dinner that is held at The Pine Lake Lodge. It also was canceled. The club’s officials felt at this point why take the risk with the start of snowmobile season only weeks away with weather permitting. We want our members, landowners, trail volunteers, and groomer operators to be healthy to support and enjoy the upcoming season.”

The Nick Stoner Trailers were able to safely conduct its annual golf tournament this year and have a Poker Run scheduled in the beginning of February.

With travel restrictions being enforced, limiting in state and out of state travel, Cosselman and Ivancic both expect there will be an influx of new riders this winter on the local trails.

“I think with cold weather and no ice storms it will be overwhelming,” Cosselman said. “The travel restrictions will make a big difference. Instead of heading to places like Old Forge, riders will stay around here. Our trails are also between the Sacandaga and Caroga Lake, so I think they will see more travel this year. We need to get some frost in the ground before the snow hits. You can get six inches of snow but if the ground is not solid under it, the trails get rough real quick. We also have a new groomer coming this year and that will help keep the trails in shape.”

“I am anticipating the same,” Ivancic said. “I recently stopped in and talked to a couple of local snowmobile dealers who informed me that their sleds are selling extremely fast and anticipate running out of stock early this year. Over the summer months RV dealers saw the same trend with COVID restrictions more people are staying closer to home and doing outdoor activities.”

The Bleecker Snow Rovers and Nick Stoner Trailers are volunteer organizations that were formed in early 1970s and have between 100 and 200 dues-paying members.

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