Snowmobiling season offers a fun outlet from COVID

The Preeceville Rough Rider Snowmobile Club and it dedicated volunteers have been keeping busy with ensuring the trails are ready for another snowmobile season.

"Avid snowmobiler are getting excited to hit the groomed trails,” said Kellen Mack, trail groomer operator.

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Prior to the season all trails need to be cleared, shelters need to get stocked full of wood and trail signs need to be put up. With 282km of groomed trails through the Porcupine Forest, across open fields and along some ditches, and only very few members there is a lot of work that had to be done.

The Ushta wood shed was full of wood on February 27, 2020 and on March 6, the Club’s trails were closed due to COVID-19. The report the club gave stated that on December 29, 2020 they experienced some vandalism to the Ushta wood shed. All the wood that several volunteers had spent numerous hours cutting, hauling and stacking was stolen. On September 8 the club received a report that the wood shed was damaged when the tin was ripped off the back of the shed and the door was ripped off. "It was very upsetting and disheartening to know that individuals would disrespect all the hard work done by volunteers. Please respect our volunteers' commitment and effort to provide wood for the snowmobilers," said Mack.

Most of the trails had been groomed except the trail from Endeavour to Ushta and Reserve due to the lack of snow at the time of the report. The ruts were too deep at that point to make a safe trail for snowmobiles.

"Last year was a dry year with very little water to cause any major issues this year,” stated Mack. “The trails have all been signed for the safety of snowmobilers. There are no major plans for the club this year and we are hoping to see another successful and safe season.”

The Rough Rider Snowmobile Club is looking for anyone who is willing to donate a few hours of their time to help get a start to the snowmobile season.

“The more volunteers that we get to help the club the better our trails and shelters can be. All of this may sound intimidating but with a little help from everyone who enjoys the trails, it can be fun,” said Mack.

"We have had an increase in snowmobilers who are taking advantage of the great riding trails, but with the increase we are having landowners complaining about damage and snowmobilers not respecting the landowners’ properties," said Mack.

The club is encouraging everyone who uses the trails to stay on the marled trails and remember they are riding at their own risk. Riders are encouraged to follow the COVID rules and regulations that apply at all warm-up shelters; with social distancing, wearing a mask and hand sanitizing. All snowmobilers are required to pack in and out everything they need for a fun, safe trip. The warm-up shelters will no longer have any amenities available such as frying pans, tin foil and garbage cans.

"We wish everyone a fun and safe snowmobile season but still would like to encourage people to remember they are riding at their own risk, be respectful of all landowners’ property and follow all rules on the trails," encouraged Mack.

The executive for the club is: Jamin Englot, president; Gordon Head, vice-president; Karlie Kowalchuk, secretary and Jason Feeley, treasurer. Laurie Decker and Gabi Wolfmueller are trail administrators.