For the last few columns, we have talked about the SnowTRAC grooming program as well as proposals to bring this program into a condition that will allow Alaska to move forward with a statewide program that is deserving of our support and enthusiasm. For the past two years we have met with former Gov. Sean Parnell’s staff with the intent to begin the conversation that the organizations have had internally. To date, no movement from the administration has been forthcoming.
As I write this, the election is newly settled, and we will have a new administration – Gov. Bill Walker and Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott – to begin this discussion anew. Although beginning fresh can be viewed as a setback, it also presents a new opportunity to push our viewpoint to a new audience. And we need to start now. We must begin contacting our local legislators in an effort to circumvent the lack of movement and support this or any administration gives us.
So get out to your local Legislative Information Office and get to know the staff there. Get a schedule for when your senator or representative is going to be in town. Show up at those meetings or, better yet, schedule a time for them to come to your membership meetings. Prepare your officers and members to discuss this issue and offer support for expansion of this program. Take copies of the articles we published, or make up talking point menus for anyone and everyone who is interested in the future of our sport.
After all, those talking points came from our members and supporters in our meetings. Pick out a legislator who supports us and maintain frequent contact with him or her. If we come up with a few strong legislators, we can move this project even without administration support.
For my part, I pledge to contact and inform Valley legislators, including Mike Dunleavy and Mark Neumann. Both legislators are in the Mat-Su, one of the most active snowmobile areas in our state. I know the Kenai Peninsula representatives have done this as well for their area. Anchorage is also moving forward with the legislative contact program. Everyone else, please help with this.
From historical and recent experience, the Legislature is where we will have to focus. We need one strong legislative contact to begin the process and to sponsor legislation that changes the current Point of Sale program from the same dated process into something we can build onto and grow into the future that we want for our sport.
In other news, this article is going to print days away from when this is submitted – not as many days after as my editor would like, but that is another story. As is it is being written, I look out my window at what resembles an early winter/late fall ice storm that has completely obliterated the .134” of snow that we had two weeks ago. We are still arguing if that was snow or frost, I will likely not win that argument.
One thing that has changed in my and She Who Must Be Obeyed’s life is that we are new lodge owners. This has been a move that we have been researching for a few years, and when a fantastic opportunity came up, we took it. What this has to do with the weather should be obvious. For years, whenever I bought a new sled, winter took its time to arrive. I continuously accepted the blame for delaying winter due to the purchase of a new winter toy. What follows our buying a lodge whose main revenue source is winter snowmobiling should be an unprecedented winter that likely won’t get here until April or so. To combat that obvious flaw in my reasoning, I have committed to moving all the cedar building material that I have meticulously stored in the pole barn under cover to an outside location that will almost certainly bring out a ruinous amount of snow and ice. It is a tough call, but you know you can count on me to sacrifice this to break this weather pattern. Besides, if the building material is safe and warm under cover, Cindy will make me use it. No brainer.
—Kevin Hite, president
Alaska State Snowmobile Association