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18 Snowmobile VERMONT TRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILS REPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORT by Matt Tetreault VAST Trails Administrator Do I have your attention yet Hopefully the title of this article grabbed your attention. I am going to work my way through some thoughts and ideas here and eventually work my way to how you can get your FREE TMA for next season As we are all well aware this winter has not lived up to the expectations that we all had after such a great season last year. A few clubs in the Northeast Kingdom and along the spine of the Green Mountains were lucky enough to get some snow here and there. As a result some clubs were able to open up trails for short periods of time between rain showers. These clubs were faced with the age-old question of whether or not to groom the trails. There is a very in- depth thought process that goes into making this decision. VAST has adopted the IASA Grooming Guidelines as well a guideline for clubs to use in setting up their grooming program. I am going to hit on a few of the basic principles outlined in the IASA Grooming Guidelines in hopes of enlightening some of the members out there who felt that clubs should have groomed more than they did. I must remind you I did not write these guidelines. These are generally accepted guidelines throughout North America. For those of you who are interested the full text the guidelines can be found here www.snowmobilers.orggroomer_ guideGroomerGuidecomplete.pdf. How to get a FREE TMA for your sled In a normal season these guidelines are pretty easy to follow but as we all know this winter was anything but normal. In areas where there was snow clubs were constantly on the phone with neighboring clubs asking Are you going out grooming What are you doing Did you get 5 of snow or less What do you think about the rain and the warm weather system that is coming in the day after tomorrow It was a constant guessing game that kept everyone on their toes and asking questions. traffic volume and patterns wind current or incoming storms. Most importantly we must consider landowner relations as well as many other various factors not mentioned here. Remember that 85 percent of the VAST trail system is on private land. Landowners typically do not want their crops roads hay fields and lawns demolished by hundreds of studs and carbides running over them during low snow conditions. The last thing they want is a groomer passing through. The amount of snow required to begin grooming operations will vary by area and is affected by the type of terrain and type of snow. Generally at least 8 to 12 inches of wet snow on smooth terrain like a road is enough to begin grooming operations. However if the snow is drier or if the terrain is rough or uneven at least 12 to 18 inches of snow or more may be required to safely begin grooming operations. In the few areas of the state that had snow this winter 8 to 12 inches of wet snow was hard to come by. In fact if you look at the snow pack map throughout the winter you will notice that there werent any areas within the state that had this amount of snow for longer than a 3-day time period. In the select areas where there was riding the base was comprised of a couple of inches of ice or bare ground in many covered by 5 to 7 inches of fluffy snow that lasted less than 48 hours in most instances. Many clubs groomed what they could and made the effort but it did cost them financially. Some of the effects of this will be felt next How Much Snow is Required to Start Grooming Operations page 57 IASA Grooming Guidelines Snowmobile trail grooming times frequencies and methods can be inuenced by many variables including temperature type and depth of snow terrain snowmobile