January 17

Happy New Year MSA Members!

It always amazes me how the journey of life can be so unpredictable! I am both humbled and excited to be serving as your next MSA president. My wife and I moved to Michigan from the Deep South nearly 18 years ago. I wouldn’t have ever imagined that someday I’d be so involved in organized snowmobiling. We moved to Michigan from Georgia, I mean who does that? Our friends thought that we were crazy at the time; my wife still does sometimes.

Like many of you, I was hooked on snowmobiling as soon as I saddled my first sled. It was the act of a friend that first introduced us to the sport of snowmobiling. I remember how amazed I was of the elaborate trail system throughout the state and that it was even close by to our own home in Western Michigan!

I try to think back on those first impressions when I start to feel complacent about our current challenges. I hope that you will take time this winter to do the same and get re-energized and excited about our sport. As a friendly reminder, the 9th annual TAKE A FRIEND SNOWMOBILING WEEK is Feb 11-20th. Consider partnering with local clubs and other local businesses to encourage non-snowmobiling friends or those who haven’t been snowmobiling for a while to join us for a time of fun. Visit www.gosnowmobiling.org for more information.

As we all get more and more involved with our sport, I think that sometimes we can’t see the forest through the trees. There is so much to be done to expand and enhance our valuable trail system network, and much more work that needs to be done just to protect what we have all worked so hard to build.  Depending on whom you surround yourself with; certain people will influence your opinion of the current state of affairs. I want to encourage you by assuring you that your MSA is represented by some of the most dedicated, professional ambassadors for the sport that exists. Other states look to us for recommendations and we serve as a role model for others to follow. As I said before that we are not perfect, but we continue to strive towards excellence. Although we sometimes have what seems to be an unsurmountable job in front of us within our own organization, we need to pause at times and take a deep breath to gain perspective. Constant challenges such as our grooming operations, legislative efforts, annual budgeting, trail programs, infrastructure replacement and membership participation all demand our constant attention, but we also need to remember to RELAX, THE SKY IS NOT FALLING…..YET.

Just recently, several of us had an opportunity to go down to the State Capital and meet with the Governor’s staff including State Senator’s, State Representatives, DNR, and Tourism Bureau. The goal of our meeting was purposeful, to again share the statistics on snowmobiling’s return on investment (ROI) towards the state’s economy, and to give an accurate picture of organized snowmobiling’s future if the state does not intervene with additional funding.

We emphasized that starting in 2018, there will be significant cut backs to our programs if we don’t increase our trail permits, or get additional dollars from the state. The snowmobilers themselves cannot continue to fund the program anymore with the rising cost of grooming equipment, bridge replacement, and new trail development.

It was evident that after talking to this group, increasing the trail permits to cover these future needs was NOT in our best interest. The representatives that attended this meeting were empathetic to our needs and we all felt that this was a very productive start in beginning this conversation with them.

After our final budget requests are formalized and completed, the committee will again meet again to discuss options for future funding. Those of us, who attended the meeting, remain cautiously optimistic that we will see positive results from our efforts. Everyone in attendance realized the importance of keeping our program well-funded and keeping Michigan a premier snowmobile destination.

During this season of political uneasiness that I think that we are all experiencing right now, I choose to be optimistic as far as MSA’s future and our other supporting organizations. I have the faith that we as a group of dedicated individuals can and will make a difference. I just witnessed this firsthand in Lansing!

Let’s take a look for a moment at the enemy- Complacency.

1: Complacency; self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.

2: Complacency; an instance of usually unaware or uninformed self-satisfaction.

All MSA members have choices to make don’t we? We can either put our head in the sand (or snow) and pretend that things will just go away, or we can choose to be informed and face the challenges before us together in a unified manner. When we do the latter, we will be stronger and more effective.

As you get out on the trails this winter, it’s my hope that you will be able to rekindle some of those memories that first attracted you to snowmobiling. It’s also my hope that we all remember why we chose to get involved in organized snowmobiling and the commitments that come along with that dedication. With that I wanted to just say THANK YOU!

For those who help your local club or council with the signing and brushing- THANK YOU!

For others who spend countless hours of painting, welding, greasing and operating our groomers- THANK YOU!

For those of you that give up your weekends to attend MSA and related committee meetings- THANK YOU!

For those of you that stand behind the membership booths explaining the programs to people and asking for their support- THANK YOU!

And still for others that continue your annual membership faithfully and remain informed by reading our Michigan Snowmobile News and Newsletters- THANK YOU!

Michigan is blessed with over 6500 miles of groomed and marked trails and over 30,000 additional miles of undeveloped trails in state and federal forests where snowmobiling is permitted. Take a friend snowmobiling this winter and let them enjoy the euphoria that most of us have known for years. Introduce them to MSA and ask for their support, you never know what a difference that can make in someone’s life.

Thanks y’all!   I mean, thank you everyone!  Jeff