Morning Read: Snowmobile season “brutal”

I’ve been touching bases with winter sports and tourism people the last week, just to see how they’re doing, and the mood out there ranges from “hanging in there” to downright “ugh.”  Particularly hard hit are snowmobile-related businesses.

More sleds are getting out on trails in some parts of the North Country and Vermont, but snow cover remains remarkably patchy to nonexistent in many areas.  This from the Glens Falls Post Star.

Patti Stetson, owner of the Black Bear Restaurant in Pottersville, called the drop in business this winter “brutal.”

…Stetson, whose Route 9 eatery is on the North Warren Snowmobile Club trail system, said business is off 50 percent or so, which has forced her to cut back hours for staff members.

And with fewer customers, tips aren’t great for those who are working.

“We’re right down to a skeleton crew, and even the ones who are working are hurting,” Stetson said.

Similar pain is being felt in Vermont, according to the Burlington Free Press.

“It’s been a challenging winter,” said Alexis Nelson, trails administrator for the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers. “Winter is having an identity crisis,” she said.

As of this week, VAST is exactly halfway through its 16-week season, and only a very limited number of snowmobile trails are open.

There is limited snowmobiling in some high-elevation places, such as near Jay and Eden. “But you can’t do a 150-mile loop, and that’s what people like to do,” Nelson said.

WKTV interviewed folks at New York State Snowmobile Association’s annual meeting earlier this month in Rome, NY, and the mood was downright bleak.
NYSSA President Gary Broderick says the mild winter is having a major negative impact, first for snowmobiler’s fun, and second for the businesses that support the sport.
He said, “it’s been a terrible year. It’s been very hard on the snowmobile clubs that build the trails throughout New York and it’s very hard on the business that support snowmobiling and benefit from snowmobiling across the state.”
So what are you seeing out there?  I’d particularly like to hear from parts of the central and western Adirondacks, and the Tug Hill, where snowmobile tourism is an essential part of the winter economy.  I’d also love to hear from business owners.
How’s the sledding season look from where you sit?

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5 Comments on “Morning Read: Snowmobile season “brutal””

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  1. Jim Bullard says:

    “Winter is having an identity crisis”. I like that. I’ve been calling the ‘un-winter of our discontent’. I’m not into snowmobiling but I do enjoy snow shoeing. I’ve been able to do that exactly once and even then the snow shoes weren’t really necessary in the 3″ that was on the trail.

  2. Ken says:

    One of the few benefits of global warming reduced numbers of pseudo-sportsmen racing their over powered sleds along roadsides, across highways, through private property and over public/state lands.

  3. Paul says:

    Jim, I have always wondered about folks that snowshoe in snow where they don’t need them. I see tracks all the time. I use them all the time when I have to, but do you really like to snowshoe just for the fun of it? It looks like a bunch of people do.

  4. dave says:

    I know a few people who enjoy snowshoeing, like… the act of snowshoeing. I can see them doing it when it is not really a necessity.

    Not me, that is for sure. Those things are a means to end to me. Nothing more.

    I also occasionally see people wearing them when the snow level would seemingly not dictate their use… and a lot of times they are being worn strictly as traction devices (if the person didnt have crampons or microspikes). In the highpeaks you will also see people wearing them when not needed because they dont want to carry them on their pack (and the regulation states you need to have them with you)

    A true bummer about the affect this winter has had on local businesses. I have my fingers crossed for one big, late push from winter. I keep telling myself that last year we didn’t real get good skiing till late January.

  5. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    It’s been horrible for businesses here in Lewis County. Hotels, bars, gas stations, etc….And of course county tax revenues are way down as a result.

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