One of the big economic drivers in Aroostook County is snowmobiling. Registration numbers for the state aren’t in yet, but the numbers are down, and this could have a significant impact on next season.
About 80 to 90 thousand snowmobile registrations for the season in Maine used to be typical. In the last three years, Caribou Parks and Rec Director Kathy Mazzuchelli says the numbers have been going down.
Mazzuchelli, “Grooming is supported by snowmobile registration dollars. When the registrations go down, then the reimbursement money that would come back to the snowmobile projects diminishes as well.”
She says this dropping trend in registration is going to have a direct impact on snowmobiling in the state, which is a significant economic tool. With less money from registration, a likely option for next year is to not groom some of the less popular trails.
Mazzuchelli, “What are the trails that are key elements in our system, what can we maintain from the money that we do get, and how can we manage that, and I think each one of the projects is going to have to do a little bit of soul searching and work with the Maine Snowmobile Association and department of conservation, to establish – we’re going to keep the quality and integrity of our system, but we may not have as many trails next year. ”
The quality of trails in Maine in large part is what Mazzuchelli says brings snowmobilers to the area. Besides the amount of registrations, The Maine Warden Service says one plus to this season, is that there were only 6 fatal accidents state wide. Although very serious situations, it is a low number compared to recent years.
Maine Game Warden Alan Dudley, “Not to down play the fatals, but considering the long season that we had and it’s pretty much state wide, you know I remember the days when there’s was 16, I know a couple years we had 16.”
In Aroostook County, there were several accidents but no fatalities. As for the trails, Mazzuchelli says the cut backs are just an option at this point, to offset the cost of grooming based on the projected amount of funding from this years registrations.