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Utah Travel Headlines

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Utah May Reduce Grooming Of Snowmobile Trails

The Utah Legislature is in session, grappling with ways to balance expenses and projected revenue. The tight economy means there is less money for programs, and some lawmakers are considering reducing funds that go to Utah State Parks for recreational programs. As a result, there may be less money available to groom snowmobile trails.

People who have strong opinions about this matter are encouraged to share them with their state representatives.

The Salt Lake Tribune has this article about the issue. Below are excerpts.

One of the first things to come out of the 2011 Utah legislative session was a proposal to cut $3 million from the Utah State Parks budget. That represents 9.5 percent of the agency’s annual budget and is in addition to $4.5 million in reduced budget funding for Utah State Parks in the past two years.

The agency, which runs 43 state parks in Utah, is also in charge of the state’s off-highway vehicle, boating and trails programs.

State Parks employees typically spend 1,200 hours grooming more than 25,000 miles of trails each winter at nine snowmobiling complexes across Utah. Without occasional grooming, snowmobile trails can become a bumpy series of whoop-de-dos that can be hard on riders and machines. If riders hit the wavy — and sometimes hard-to-see — spots too fast, they can be dangerous.

“They do an excellent job. They are always on top of it,” Ken Rossum, executive director of the Utah Snowmobile Association, said of the state park groomer operators. “We have been paying attention to the budget issues and it is unfortunate where it seems like things may be going.”

A large part of the grooming budget comes from annual snowmobile registration fees and a gas tax, but the economic woes, which are leading to budget cuts, have also affected the number of registered snowmobiles.

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