March 2017

My wife often wonders who I’m talking to, or shouting at when she is not in the room with me. This usually happens around the 6:00 pm hour as I’m watching the local news. I hardly ever raise my voice at my Golden Retriever, so when this ridiculous one way conversation occurs she knows that I’m probably chastising the weatherman again for yet another disappointing forecast.  You see especially in the wintertime, I like many of you hopefully are weather watchers too and want to know how much snow that we will be anticipating. If I’m alone in this, I apologize in advance for my disorder.

I remember not too long ago before this snowmobile season started that the meteorologists and the Farmer’s Almanac were predicting a big snow year for us folks south of the bridge. This was great news since the last several years were dismal to say the least. So far this year, at least south of the Cadillac, MI area we have been unable to ride locally every weekend because the snow won’t stay on the ground for more than a week before we get unseasonably warm weather again and melt it all, only to start again from scratch. This is Michigan I’m living in, right?

I guess I’m a real sucker for a good winter forecast. When the weatherman says that we are going to get 6-8” of lake effect snow before the weekend, I go out and make sure everything’s ready to go. It’s like Santa is coming to town and bringing us all a gift. Then to my dismay, the forecast is often changed to just flurries. It’s when we don’t even get the flurries that I start to pull my hair out and yell at the TV with disgust. I sincerely hope I’m not the only one with this disorder. I should probably get some counseling after this winter!

I guess that it’s not the weatherman’s fault really. He or she is not deliberately trying to mislead me I hope. They are relying on the American and European computer models that seem to offer only an educated guess on what’s going to happen. It’s when the meteorologist tries to second guess this data and gets our hopes up that drives me crazy. I need to remember that Mother Nature doesn’t give up her secrets very easily and I shouldn’t be surprised when the 3-day, 7-day, or even 10-day forecast changes drastically.

I can equate my story above with what’s happening in MSA today. You know we try to predict our snowmobile budget with revenues based largely in part by our trail permit sales and other variables. When a large portion of the state suffers with little or no snowfall, we all suffer. Especially MSA that depends on trail permit sales and memberships.  We “forecast” or try to “predict” what the season holds for us fiscally based on past budgeting trends, examining our current and future needs, and a little optimism thrown in. Much like Mother Nature who we rely on for our snowfall, we are now looking to our elected officials in Lansing and Washington, DC to bring us some much needed assistance to maintain and improve our snowmobiling program here in Michigan. Our current challenges have been shared with you in past issues of Michigan Snowmobile News. With the planned meetings that we now have scheduled with the Governor’s office, and with the Legislative and Congressional Rides that are organized each year to bring awareness for our cause, we will continue to press on. We always value your support and encouragement and try our best to bring you the latest developments, both the victories and the shortfalls. But remember, being transparent comes with a price and we ask that you please; “Don’t Shoot the Messenger”! We want you to be informed and know that your voice is being heard.

MSA will continue to work with our legislative contacts both here in Michigan and in Washington, DC. this spring, summer and fall of 2017 until we all can meet again on the snowmobile trails for next winters snowmobile season. MSA will post our progress on our website so that you can remain engaged. Several of us will be going again to the ACSA (American Council of Snowmobile Associations) Fly-In which will be held in Washington, DC in April to represent Michigan. The International Snowmobile Congress this June will be held in Winnipeg, Canada, and again MSA will be there to represent and support Michigan.

Since this is the last issue of Michigan Snowmobile News until Fall 2017, I just wanted to say thank you again for allowing me to serve as your MSA President. I’m not a very good meteorologist or even a good fortune teller. But I do remain confident that our voices are beginning to be heard and that we are making a difference on our road to recovery. It is vital that we keep Michigan a premier snowmobiling destination and that the tourism industry recognizes the importance of this economic impact on our state.

I hope that when looking back on this past winter that you can all say that the majority of your rides were pleasant and positive memories were made. I’ve made many new friends along the way and that is what I’ll cherish most from this past season.

So as we all anticipate the summertime ahead and look forward to all of the other forms of recreation that Michigan has to offer, I have to remind myself that the weatherman is only human. As I’m sitting in the camper looking out at the rain, or sitting inside enjoying the A/C when its 93 degrees outside, I guess I need to enjoy the moment anyway, despite of what the weather is outside.  Who knows, after some needed counseling this summer, I might even invite the weatherman for a little snowmobiling with us next winter. But I think I’ll wait until I see his prediction for abundant snowfall for the weekend before I invite him!  Jeff