Groomers make the difference

7:24 PM, Mar 7, 2011   |    comments
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LEWISTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- It's been a great winter for outdoor recreation. Snowmobilers have had great conditions in all corners of the state for about two months. Even with the recent rain, most areas are looking forward to at least a couple more months of sledding.

That's put a lot of pressure on trail groomers.

Maine has 14,000 miles of snowmobile trail. It is maintained by an army of groomers like Bruce Milliken and Mike Gagne of the Hillside Riders of Lewiston.  

Bruce and Mike make up half a grooming team that handles forty miles of trail and they'd like to think they know what they're doing.

As snowmobilers roll by, they often give a thumbs up to the groomers. A mainer pays $45 to register a snowmobile. About half of that goes to pay for grooming.

When you join your local snowmobile club, local groomers receive about $12. That's enough for them to do ten miles of trail once, but that's a lot more than they're being given now.

Clubs are responsible for raising about 30% of their grooming money locally. Bruce says it's frustrating to groom day after day and see a lot of familiar faces that are not club members.

"I'd like them to support the system and join a club, not because we want you to work, clubs have workers, but the financial support would go a long way," said Milliken.

The groomers and hundreds of others around the state have gone a long way this winter, giving Maine world class trails.










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