The newsletter of AMERICAN TRAILS -- SPRING 1997

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Snomobiles on rail trails benefit economy; maintenance is issue

From the Munger Trail Town Newsletter

It is known that the Munger Trail has a huge economic impact on the area's economy. These benefits are occurring 12 months of the year. Snowmobiling in particular has boosted the local economy immensely. An annual 1 billion dollars is spent on snowmobiling activity in Minnesota.

The Trail Towns Association has recognized a potential trail problem; that of snowmobile damage to the blacktop surface. The damage appears to be the result of carbide traction products commonly used by snowmobilers for added traction and turning on ice and snow.

This add-on product is harder than surface rock and wears many times longer than other less hard traction products. As such, it is favored by performance-minded snowmobilers, but causes greatly-accelerated wear on asphalt driveways, wood-decked bridges, parking lots. roads, and especially trails.

The DNR has covered many of the wood-decked bridges on the Munger Trail with salvaged rubber conveyor belting, which appears to protect the bridge decking. While the damage to the blacktop does not seem to affect bicyclists, in-line skaters appear to be greatly affected. In-line skating is a rapidly growing pursuit with skaters now comprising up to 25% of the summer use on the trail. The Trail Towns Association fears that asphalt damage will have a negative impact on trail use and ultimately on tourism dollars coming into the area.


From the Indiana Snow Rider

Representatives of manufacturers of snowmobile traction products met last year to take a detailed and scientific look at the impacts of these products on snowmobile safety and trails. Formed in response to recent questions about their effects on trails, the group developed a survey form to gather information from snowmobilers with the traction products on use patterns and user profiles.

A complete study is being bid out to a scientific testing organization to measure both safety aspects and surface wear effects. The study will also look into options and alternatives for traction product use.