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6 Snowmobile VERMONT Letters Continued from page 5 It was a dark and stormy night . . . early March not cold and frosty as it should be but warm and wet as rain fell on brown grass. It was time for the monthly snowmobile club meeting. Attendance was nine out of the usual 10 or 11. That was not bad considering that this winter has been famous for record setting high temperatures not lows. Part of the evenings conversation focused briey on the lack of snow. Several seasoned members couldnt recall a winter as odd as this. Several members had not ridden at all and others rode a small fraction of what they would in a normal season. However the core group still showed up took care of club business shared stories and looked to the future. This was not the winter any of us expected especially after the fantastic end to last season. But not having an accurate crystal ball no one could have predicted in the fall that thousands of miles of trails would not be used. Every club went through their normal pre-season routine cleared and marked trails prepped groomers planned club fundraising events contacted hundreds of landowners and sold TMAs. All clubs expected a somewhat standard Vermont winter that was cold white and long. Much to everyones surprise and disappointment winter never really showed up unlike those core club members that show regardless. The key to the success of VAST has always been the volunteers the relationships with landowners and the members that purchase TMAs regardless of the forecast. Snowmobiling has to be the only sport where money is spent in large amounts with no guarantee of a season and relies solely on good olMother Nature to deliver the key ingredient. There was snow not necessarily where most of us would have liked and not in the amounts we expect but there was snow. Those that had the opportunity to seek out the limited riding hopefully enjoyed their experience and made some great memories. For the members that werent able to ride thank you for supporting your club your association and your fellow members. Its the diehard enthusiasts that will keep this sport healthy. As stick season is quickly turning into mud season spring is just around the corner. It is time to pick up those hundreds of signs thank the landowners and figure out a more eective snow dance for November Thank you for volunteering thank you for supporting your clubs and thank you for supporting your association - Jeff Fay VAST Vice President A message from VAST Vice President Jeff Fay the club officers and directors have the same feeling. The relief I felt was replaced with reflection about how this sport came to be and where it is headed. Ray represents the core of founding fathers that share time property knowledge stories and a sense of community with everyone. VAST is very fortunate to have Ray and others like him throughout the state to build the very fabric that ties all of this together the Statewide Snowmobile Trail System. Without Ray and lots of folks like him we dont get to enjoy over 5000 miles of trails. In a scene from the movie Its a Wonderful Life I wondered what would happen if we did not have people like Ray in our lives. My anxiety rose as I pondered a landscape of closed trails and posted properties because no one was willing to share their land. In all likelihood there would be no VAST if our founders could not rally landowners from all corners to open their land for four months out of the year and let us travel night and day to every community in this great state. This particular season gave me a chance to think about winter without snowmobiling. It is a bleak and long winter with no trips to the places you cant experience from a car. Our neighborhood businesses have a tough year ahead because it started badly for them. VAST has some dire financial issues ahead. The clubs will have much to do in the upcoming year because the lack of snow did not mean the trails escaped damage from wind and rain. But it is not all bad. Ray will be back to help put together our trail system next year. And he will be joined by the resilient volunteer crew of officers and directors. Thankfully other landowners like Ray will open their arms and welcome us upon their land. What we need to consider for the upcoming season is how to express our gratitude and appreciation for the core of our existence as an organization that is made up of landowners and volunteers. We thank our landowners as best we can. I personally extend a thank you Cindy Locke photo