Friday, March 24Welcome

Snowmobiling benefits the business of snowmobiling communities – Grand Forks Herald

Grand Forks – If the recent debate over the Red River Snowmobile Club’s failed request to build a 7.2-mile trail on the Grand Forks Greenway is any indication, snowmobiling is controversial in Grand Forks. It’s possible, but the sound of snowmobiles can be music to your ears. The number of small business owners who benefit from winter-generated traffic.

In Alvarado, Minnesota, a new trail from the East Grand Forks by the Red River Snowmobile Club takes snowmobiles to the doors of Ann Estad.

If Grand Forks doesn’t want a snowmobile, Estad says he’s happy to get one.

Estad owns Lightning Bar in Alvarado and will be celebrating 27 years as owner of the property on February 1st.

“Everyone I spoke to here said it would be great because we could snowmobile into the East Side (East Grand Forks),” Estad said on a recent Friday afternoon.

Of course, the reverse is also true.

Bryan Chandler, Vice President of the Red River Snowmobile Club, which worked with the City of Alvarado and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said: Establish new trails. “I can even out the loop. Just spend the night. I’m excited.”

In previous winters, Estad said, snowmobiles mostly bypassed Alvarado and her facility to destinations like Warren and Oslo, with trails entering directly into the city limits. In Alvarado, by contrast, the trail remained along State Route 1 north of the city limits, with no access from the south.

Now, she says, snowmobiles can stop for burgers and drinks from both directions, like people moving down the road.

It’s huge, she says, because snowmobiles spend money everywhere they go. According to the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association, the economic impact of snowmobiling in Minnesota is estimated at $1 billion annually.

A new trail from East Grand Forks to Alvarado “is going to be good,” she says.

“It’s going to be amazing,” said Estad. “When we came from Oslo[by snowmobile]a lot of people kept heading east towards Warren.”

“I’m really excited.”

Perhaps nowhere in the region is snowmobiling more popular than in Bemidji, a destination for snowmobilers and cross-country skiers.

Leroy Tennyson, vice president of Bemidji’s North Country Snowmobile Club, said the downtown area of ​​Bemidji is closed to snowmobiling, but the city and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are working with the club to bring snowmobiles through the city boundaries. Said it offers a corridor.

“Bemidji as a city understands the economic value of the snowmobile clubs and the snowmobile trails that come to Bemidji,” Tennyson said. “It’s always been a pretty strong economic benefit to the community because so many people come here to stay in hotels, eat, ride, and promote the business side of town.”

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Snowmobiles pass through Beltrami Island State Forest in March 2019. According to the Minnesota National Snowmobile Association, snowmobiling generates an estimated $1 billion annually to the Minnesota economy. Destination communities such as Bemidji have definitely seen the benefits.

Brad Dokken/Grand Forks Herald

Whether it’s snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, or other outdoor activity, outdoor recreation enthusiasts need a place to go, says Tennyson.

“If you don’t give people a place to go, you’re going to have more problems than if they found a place to go,” he said.

The North Country Snowmobile Club maintains approximately 400 miles of trails.

Tennyson said the club ran a statewide promotion several years ago asking snowmobile enthusiasts visiting Bemidji to pay with $2 bills to patronize local businesses. The sentiment in the town at the time was that snowmobiles were not having a significant impact on the economy.

The promotion proved otherwise, he says.

“I went around town about a week after they started doing this, and there wasn’t a store in town that didn’t have a drawer full of two-dollar bills,” Tennyson said. “Then they started to realize, ‘This is pretty crazy,’ because all the business in town he ended up with a $2 bill.”

Even with places to go, snowmobiles sometimes draw noise complaints, says Tennyson. This was also a concern for some who opposed the Red River Snowmobile Club’s recent request to expand snowmobile access within the greenway.

Although the request was approved on a safety basis, it received a cold response from the Grand Forks City Council, enthusiastic residents who live near Greenway, and others who use the public green space. The police chief, who was in charge of setting up snowmobile routes in the Grand Forks city limits at the time of the request, eventually withdrew the proposed Greenway his trail from the proposed snowmobile route.

Sure, snowmobiles make noise, says Tennyson.

“How fast does that snowmobile go?” Tennyson said. “I hear it for 20-30 seconds and then it goes away.”

Unfortunately, he says there will always be a small fraction of riders who give everyone else a bad name.

“But again, it’s the same thing as a lawbreaker,” Tennyson said. “Every user group has a few people who do things that require police attention.”

Snowmobiles and cross-country skiers in the Bemidji area generally do not share trails, except for the state trails of Paul Bunyan and Hartland and short corridors within the city limits, and are Regional Parks and Trails Supervisors of the DNR in Bemidji. says Dave Schotzko. .

The Paul Bunyan State Trail is a 123-mile paved multi-use trail that follows old railroad tracks from Lake Bemidji State Park to Crow Wing State Park near Brainerd. The route also includes Walker, Minnesota, another destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The trail shares 8 miles with the Heartland State Trail, a 49-mile rail-to-trail project from Cass Lake to Park Rapids, Minnesota.

Both trails offer connections to hundreds of miles of other state-subsidized snowmobile trails. Cross-country skiers and fat-tired bikers can use snowmobile trails on grant-in-aid on state land, but generally aren’t allowed on private land, Schotzko said. Minnesota has 22,000 miles of subsidized snowmobile trails, a significant portion of which is on private land, he said, due to agreements between snowmobile clubs and landowners.

Dave Schozko 2017.jpg

Dave Schotzko, Regional Parks and Trails Supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Bemidji, said:

Contributed by Dave Schotzko

The Bemidji area has an abundance of cross-country ski trails, giving skiers plenty of options.

“Sometimes I get a call (I wonder), ‘Hey, can I go ski on the Paul Bunyan Trail?’ I was. “They don’t want him to drive two miles or ten miles. They want to start skiing right from home.”

Still, Schotzko says he doesn’t recommend it.

“It’s much safer to go out to a specially-equipped place for skiing or biking,” he said. “You’ll have a better experience, too.”

Recently, the DNR worked with the city and snowmobile clubs to build a corridor about half a mile south of Bemidji near Lake Irving. There, snowmobile, walking and fat bike riders share the same trails, Schotzko said. The trail is also open to cross-country skiers, but that group tends to prefer using designated subsidized ski-hit trails in and out of town, he said.

A parking lot was removed from one side of Clausen Avenue to accommodate the corridor. This “removed the road from the street to the boulevard where sidewalks would normally be installed,” Schotzko said. “I worked on this project for 15 years, but others before me also chose to pursue it.

“It’s great,” he added. “Otherwise, (the snowmobile) will get lost,” he tries to find a way to move around the city. “Last winter, I had one complaint. It was a win-win.”


Leroy Tennyson of Bemidji’s North Country Snowmobile Club is using skid steer in the winter of 2022 to clear the edge of Clausen Avenue adjacent to a short public trail near Lake Irving. This corridor provides a safe route for snowmobiles through the southern tip of Bemidji to the Paul Bunyan State Trail.

Contributed by Dave Schotzko, Minnesota DNR

Tennyson said the new corridor meant snowmobiles no longer had to run through the streets to pick up the Paul Bunyan State Trail.

“[The DNR]actually bought a piece of land, widened it, and built better bike and snowmobile trails through it,” he said. , is the main corridor to get out of town.You can take the (railway) grade out of town and head for Walker.

In response to repeated complaints of snowmobile speeds along part of the Paul Bunyan State Trail near the Sanford Center, also south of Bemidji, Shoczko said DNR Conservation Officer said it spent several days conducting compliance checks to ensure that the complaint was appropriate. was valid. Shotsuko said officers wrote several citations about the now-unregistered snowmobiles, but not a single citation about speeding.

Proper Bemidji snowmobiles must obey the same speed limits as cars and trucks.

“Everybody called and complained,” said Tennyson of the Snowmobile Club, who said the snowmobile was speeding. “They were trying to give[the snowmobile]a bad spot, so hopefully they could move the trail and get us out of there.”

Whether snowmobiles, skiers or bikers, users of multi-use trails need to look out for each other just like anywhere else, says Schotzko. In most cases, snowmobiles skiers and bikers wouldn’t even be on the trails if it wasn’t for the grooming and maintenance done by the club.

“I’ve never heard of anyone being run over by a snowmobile on the Grant in Aid snowmobile trail,” said Shochuko. “Show him one situation in Minnesota.”

Undoubtedly, snowmobile trails and the people who ride them are good for business and local economies, says Tennyson.

“It’s the only user group you come to, buys gas, gets a room, usually at a resort or hotel, eats somewhere else two or three times a day, gets snacks and stuff. It’s in between,” Tennyson said. “I mean, they spend money.”

A new snowmobile can easily cost over $15,000. Throw in insurance, clothing, helmets, and other expenses and the costs add up quickly.

“It’s probably one of the most expensive hobbies to start,” said Tennyson. “The money you make from the sport – pickups, trailers, sleds, parts, petrol, oil – is more unrealistic than in any other sport.”

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