Lack of snow means this group ain’t mo­bile

Lo­cal mem­bers of the On­tario Fed­er­a­tion of Snow­mo­bile Clubs have trails ready, but one thing is miss­ing

The Woolwich Observer - - SPORTS - VERON­ICA REINER

YOU MAY BE RE­JOIC­ING at the warmer win­ter weather thus far, but snow­mo­bil­ers in the re­gion are not thrilled.

Milder tem­per­a­tures have quickly melted away any snow that has fallen, pre­vent­ing any accumulations – the trails main­tained by lo­cal mem­bers of the On­tario Fed­er­a­tion of Snow­mo­bile Clubs trails have not yet to open this sea­son. It’s an in­creas­ingly fa­mil­iar sce­nario.

“It’s got to be about $2.5 mil­lion of equip­ment sit­ting at the ready, wait­ing for the snow to come,” said OFSC Dis­trict 5 pres­i­dent Gra­ham Sny­der. “Ev­ery­body’s done main­te­nance and they’re all ready to go but ... no snow. Frus­trat­ing is a pretty good way to de­scribe it, but de­press­ing is even bet­ter.”

“We have to get a base for them to get out there, start get­ting a base down and groom­ing the trails,” added Dis­trict 5 ad­min­is­tra­tor Heather DeGraas. “We just need snow. We’re ready, though. We’ve got our ma­chines ready to go, and our groomers ready to go so it’s just a mat­ter of get­ting some snow now.”

The Dis­trict 5 is a group of vol­un­teers rep­re­sent­ing 25 clubs that op­er­ate 3,139 kilo­me­tres of trails through­out south­west­ern On­tario. The group’s goal is to es­tab­lish and main­tain snow­mo­bile trails in the area.

Lo­cal clubs rep­re­sented in­clude the St. Cle­ments Snow­mo­bile Club and the Wellesley Sno Sports Snow­mo­bile Club. Mem­bers were busy pre­par­ing trails ear­lier in the sea­son, but have yet to en­joy the fruits of that labour.

“It’s re­ally frus­trat­ing for the peo­ple who set the trail up,” said Sny­der. “They did all this work al­ready. The trails have to be set up for our sig­nage guide­line ev­ery year. They’ve got to be staked and signed … So that’s some­thing you have to do way be­fore you even think of snow com­ing.”

There was just around 12 avail­able days of snow­mo­bil­ing last year, which is nowhere near what the club aims for. In the im­me­di­ate vicin­ity, that num­ber was even lower.

“In the Wool­wich area, we were only open about three days,” said Sny­der. “What we open varies – it all de­pends. They got more snow around Strathroy and that area last year when we were just on the edge of hav­ing enough. And we more or less just opened just be­cause we wanted to give every­one a taste of it again any­way.”

A snow­mo­bile can­not op­er­ate prop­erly with­out a suf­fi­cient amount of snow, and there is also the risk of dirt get­ting in the ma­chine. There should be about four to seven inches of snow on the ground be­fore a snow­mo­bile can be driven.

The here to­day, gone to­mor­row weather makes it dif­fi­cult to pre­dict pre­cisely when the trails will be open­ing this year. Sny­der said that the next two weeks don’t look promis­ing, so likely af­ter that time­frame.

“When we do get our trails open, ev­ery­body re­ally needs to stay on the trails,” said Sny­der. “If peo­ple don’t hon­our the trail sys­tem or cut corners to find their own way on the trail, there’s a good chance the trail won’t be there next year. We’ve got quite a few peo­ple get­ting frus­trated with … some­times the ne­glect of the snow­mo­bil­ers for not stay­ing on the trail. It’s hard to deal with. If every­one co-op­er­ated with that lit­tle bit, it would make our job eas­ier.”

He also noted that the snow­mo­bil­ing trails are par­tic­u­larly good up north and out east, so avid snow­mo­bil­ing en­thu­si­asts can take a trip in that di­rec­tion to get their fix.

More de­tails are avail­able at www.of­scdis­

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