Snowmachine Sumit

We all hate it, but its forced upon us. Any local political issues we should know about ??

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mit
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Snowmachine Sumit

#1 Post by mit » Mon Feb 16, 2015 7:54 pm

Prior to this month’s discussion point, a bit of review. In the past couple issues we have covered beginnings of the SnoTrac program and traced some of its history since 1997. We listed earlier challenges and attempted a track and document the progress of this program throughout the legislative and administrative processes that culminated in the program that we are working with today. Many challenges have been a part of this process and they continue to affect the SnoTrac program as it exists now.

There were formal meetings and informal discussions with literally hundreds of conversations that occurred in each and every part of Alaska concerning what to do with this program and which proposal, or combinations of proposals would be most effective for the snowmobile community as a whole. Different parts of the state have different priorities that each fought to include. Conversations with legislators, governor’s staff and other concerned parties have had very limited success in moving the DNR process in any of the directions we want, so it was thought that it was time for the organized snowmobile community to propose and begin the driving process to build a sustainable project that would have the greatest support and give us the best chance for a successful outcome. Below is the outline of what we feel organized snowmobilers in Alaska expect and will be willing to work towards to build a good snowmobile program in Alaska.

1. Move the SnoTrac Advisory board away from DNR. Two options have been explored and merit mention.

a. Make the SnoTrac Board a Governor’s Board under the Governor’s Division of Boards and Commissions. This gives the Advisory board more authority to administer the grants according to SOPs that are given short shrift under current DNR philosophy. The legislative allocation of registration funds would flow through this Governor’s board and be subject to the standards of other Boards serving as Governor’s boards.

b. Move the SnoTrac Advisory board completely away from DNR and recreate the organization as a NGO (non- governmental organization) that operates under the authority of the organized snowmobile groups in the state. The appropriation of funds from the general fund would be handled by this group rather than under the administration of DNR. The Director of DNR has publicly stated that he has no problem turning over this program to a NGO for administration and execution.

2. Organize the new SnoTrac board on the lines of a regional representative board. Initial program organization should draw representatives from the most active snowmobile clubs in each region as well as an Alaskan Business representative. The New SnoTrac board would need to meet and work out the program guidelines and processes, including the grant process and Standard Operation Procedures. Initial thought process is that the first edition of the new SnoTrac board would be made up of the following representatives.

SnoTrac Board
Region Initial selection by:
Fairbanks Fairbanks Snow Travelers
Mat-Su Curry Ridge Riders
North Kenai Caribou Hills Cabin Hoppers
South Kenai SNOMADS of Homer
Copper Valley Valdez Snowmobile Club
Lake Louise Wolfpack
Anchorage Anchorage Snowmobile Club
Western/Bush Alaska Alaska Dept of Transportation Nominee
At Large Alaska State Snowmobile Association
Business All Club Nominations

3. Winter Trails Coordinator
a. Utilizing the 12.5% administration fee, the board will select/hire a Winter Trails Coordinator.
b. The WTC (or whatever the SnoTrac board names the position) is needed to coordinate all snow trail programs in the state.
c. This person will be seconded to the SnoTrac board and will be tasked with actively seeking coordinated funding to expand statewide trail programs.
d. The WTC will coordinate the Statewide Safety Program. More on this below
e. He/she will be tasked with preparing and distributing of program reports to include performance and evaluation of grants and pool funds. These reports will be submitted to the SnoTrac board for evaluation of continued funding.
f. Other assignments as required………..
4. Registration Fees
a. Once the new SnoTrac Board has a year under their belts to work out the SOPs and evaluation tools needed for program process, they will request a raise in the annual registration fees from $5.00 per year to $10.00 per year. This will obviously be tied into the legislature allocating the new amount from the general fund.
b. Included in this registration process would be all On Snow Vehicles. Any ORV or ATV using a state funded trail would be required to register.
c. Again, after a year’s performance history, the SnoTrac board and WTC would begin to seek matching State funding to augment the program.
5. Alaska Statewide Snowmobile Safety Program
a. When the funding mechanism goes from the current funding levels to the secondary level mentioned in 4a, then an automatic trigger would kick in to fund a statewide snowmobile safety program at approximately 20%-25% of the funding mechanism. At the proposed $10 per year, that would approach $120K per year.
b. The Statewide Snowmobile Safety program would be one that can be taught by local organizations, i.e. community schools, Public Safety Officers, etc.
c. The Program would be customizable to account for regional requirements. That could be one route for rural participants who use snowmobile as primary transportation and another route for recreational/backcountry participants.
d. The program could possibly be patterned after the Alaska Boating Safety program or the Alaskan Hunter Education program.
e. The intent would be to go out to bid to organizations that would design and deliver the type of program that can be replicated without specific organizational support. Basically SnoTrac would initially purchase the program and then continue support and distribution of the safety program statewide.

Well, there you have it. A first stab at creating an Alaskan Snowmobile Advisory Council that would be responsive to snowmobilers and responsible for the creation of a program that is able to grow and meet the ever expanding requirements of Alaskan snowmobilers. The New SnoTrac board would be able to set a direction for this program that reflects the aggressive nature of snowmobilers in Alaska. Stabilization of the program would be a tremendous benefit. No more changing DNR staff season to season, no more uncertainty that the program will careen from point to point depending on outside pressures from non-snowmobile interests.

The New SnoTrac board would need to get together and solidify these draft recommendations. Fortunately the existing SnoTrac SOPs are close enough to modify without reinventing the wheel. Much of the footwork is in place, but obviously not being utilized. These organizational procedures should be in place prior to legislative approval of this change.

The next step is up to you. If this type of change in our program is the direction that you want to go, then you need to get with your officers in your club and engage them in the progression of going to our legislators in order to make this change. We will utilize the Snow Rider to advocate for the changes that we feel need to be made. Utilize your organizational voice to begin this process in order for us to be in front of the legislature this next season to make these changes. Time to make this happen….
See you at Arctic Man…..

Kevin Hite
President
Alaska State Snowmobile Association


Tim Berg
The Snowmachine Registration, needs to be Repealed!

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Re: Snowmachine Sumit

#2 Post by john » Thu Feb 26, 2015 5:54 am

Got an update, what happened at the Summit ?



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Re: Snowmachine Sumit

#3 Post by mit » Thu Feb 26, 2015 11:24 pm

john wrote:Got an update, what happened at the Summit ?
Steve Posted some pics I forget where?


Tim Berg
The Snowmachine Registration, needs to be Repealed!

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#4 Post by Darrell » Fri Mar 06, 2015 11:04 am

I've written the following letter to Representative Neuman and Thompson as Co-Chairs of the House Finance Committee. Please join me by sending this letter or one of your own to both the House and Senate Finance Committees.

This is just a short note to request that you restore funding for the SnowTRAC program this year.

AS 28.39.020 authorized the Department of Administration/DMV to require and collect a snowmobile registration fee (~$220,000 annually). The statute does not state what the fee will go toward. Since statute’s inception the unwritten understanding was that DMV would transfer the fees generated under AS 28.39.020 to the Department of Natural Resources/Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation through an interagency agreement. It was understood that the division would establish a snowmobile advisory board (SnowTRAC) and funds received from DMV would be spent on trail grooming, as well as snowmobile educational and safety projects. In order to transfer funds from DMV to SnowTRAC, the Governor normally includes that funding as a line item. Since the Governor did not include that line item, the entire SnowTRAC program will come to an end as of July 1st if funding is not restored.

This is the only self funded fee system in the state. It is a revenue neutral program that we fund out of our own registration money. The money funds trail care, safety and grooming activities that in turn, bring increased business through recreational visitation in each of the communities throughout the State who have qualified for those funds. Failure to fund this program means the end of SnowTRAC, increased user hazards on the trails, the failure of several non-profit grooming organizations and decreased winter business for communities up and down the trail system.

It is my sincere hope that you will work diligently to restore funding for this program. I would be pleased to provide any supplemental information you may need to accomplish that task or to assist in anyway. I can be reached at 907-892-7406 if there is anything I can assist with.

Best Regards, Big Lake Trails, Inc.


If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem.

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Re: Snowmachine Sumit

#5 Post by john » Fri Mar 06, 2015 2:49 pm

I really want a good update from Steve on this as I'm torn. If SnoTrac is moved away from DNR then I'd be in support of contacting the powers that be to continue the funding. However, with the abuse and other current direction those funds are going I don't think I'd be in support of it if DNR keeps SnoTrac.

As it now stands, they won't fund Safety programs, most of the dollars go to the "grooming pool" which means new trails are not being developed and their awarding funds to State Parks which should not get any of those funds but should get funded via their general funding process.

So it'll be good to hear what Steve has to say, which I believe may be positive as long as the direction and intent is followed and DNR is no longer in control of our dollars.



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Re: Snowmachine Sumit

#6 Post by mit » Fri Mar 06, 2015 6:00 pm

Sent an email to Steve requesting him to post a report under this thread. He did give us a report at the board meeting of course you know what I think! :bangin:


Tim Berg
The Snowmachine Registration, needs to be Repealed!

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