By State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine
This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the New York State Snowmobile Associationâ€™s annual convention in Liverpool. I am honored to have been invited to speak and receive the groupâ€™s 2010 Legislator of the Year award.
What struck me was the tremendous turnout and support shown by the riders, club leaders, and land owners for their sport. The large ballroom was full for the awards luncheon, where the club honored its groomers, dealer, club and snowmobiler of the year as well. It is the clubs and the individuals who give their time, effort and land to create and maintain the trails that make this sport what it is todayâ€”a sport that continues to grow in this recession, even if the snow sometimes will not cooperate.
To help this growth, Iâ€™ve sponsored legislation the Senate that Assemblyman Will Barclay is carrying in the Assembly. This legislation would enable certain businesses to sell registrations to out of state residents so that our local clubs can benefit from the distribution of money raised by these registrations for trail maintenance. Of course, that fund must remain in place for just thatâ€”snowmobile trails, not a means to balance the budget.
Snowmobiles are an integral part of our upstate economy and way of life. The sport supports and creates jobs, raises revenue and provides many with a fun winter activity. I can remember when I bought my first sled some 40 years ago. There were quite a few members from Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties at the event and Oswego County had a great display showing off the fishing, hunting and riding opportunities in the county. I enjoyed listening to the people I met, sharing stories of our experiences in the sport, and talking about its future.
Part of that future is the work students at Clarkson University completed this year, finishing in third place this year in a competition to create a zero-emissions snowmobile. Their success was a 50 horsepower sled with a range of 20 miles or more, which can be found at the university now, but will make its way to Greenland in May. Three students from the team were on hand to explain their work modifying an existing snowmobile with hundreds of battery cells.
Outdoor recreation is a big part of our lives here in Central and Northern New York. Snowmobile season has passed, but now many of us have switched to fishing, hiking, biking and riding all-terrain vehicles for the spring and summer months. As a sportsman myself, I am committed to protecting our rights and growing our outdoor recreational industries.