By Jon Tatting ECM Post Review
These volunteers are like no other and just like everybody else.
They work. They play. They groom. They teach. They take pride in belonging to something that’s not just a sport but a tradition deemed important to Minnesota’s history, recreation and economy.
“We do this because we like it, we enjoy it,” said Scott Gillette, president and almost 20-year member of the Sno-Drifters. “There is a feeling of pride that our members take in making our trails the best that they can be and providing safety training to the youth coming into our sport. All of us are doing our part to support snowmobiling in a way we can ensure its future.
Of the five million people who live in Minnesota, he noted, 10 percent or 500,000 are considered avid snowmobilers. “Our job is to help create a positive presence for those who are neutral to snowmobiling. We want students to learn how to ride safe. They’re our next batch of snowmobile riders,” Gillette explained.
The club formed in 1968-69 by five charter members: Cecil Coe, Dale Pierce, Duane Deming, Denny Gustafson and Loren Magnison, who is an active member today.
It was established to stimulate and advance the welfare and safety of snowmobiling and serve the interests of snowmobile owners through establishing marked and well-groomed trails.
“The club labor is all volunteer, and we are very fortunate that we have so many of our member families show up to help with the day to day work that is required to maintain the trails,” Gillette said. “The club has five groomer operators who work with trail coordinator Bob Heidelberger. These guys make every effort to groom all of our trails two times a week.
“Our trails reach out in all directions to meet up with others — the Wild River trails to our east and south, Rush City Sno Bugs to the north and the Linwood Kiwi Club to the southwest. All of the clubs provide an important piece to the 21,000-plus miles of trail that run throughout the state,” added Gillette.