Snow Trac moves to brighter future

by • March 13, 2015 • UncategorizedComments (0)162

By Kevin Hite ASSA President

I want to thank everyone who suffers through my monthly column (not the least of which are my editors) and want to let you know this is my last of the season. Not that I have been fired yet, but this is our last edition for the 2014/2015 season. I hope most of you are reading this at Arctic Man… As far as I know, that is the only area with any snow whatsoever.
In addition to the start of the Iron Dog and a first time ever ceremonial start in Anchorage, both the Anchorage Snowmobile Club and the Iron Dog organization sponsored an “ Alaska Snowmobile Summit, 2015”. This event gave many of us the opportunity to gather snowmobile representatives from organizations and clubs all over the state to discuss and prioritize goals for Alaska’s snowmobiling community in the near and distant future.
Organizations participating included the Anchorage Snowmobile Club, the Lake Louise Wolfpack, the Fairbanks Snow Travelers, Caribou Hills Cabin Hoppers, the Snowmads of Homer and Anchor Point, the Curry Ridge Riders, Tok Trailblazers, Big Lake Trails, Willow Trails, ASSA as well as involved enthusiasts from this media organization and current and former lodge owners. In addition, State Parks Director Ben Ellis made time to update us on the current status of the Snow Trac registration program.
We opened the agenda with the stated goal of coming out of the meeting with three clear goals that we could agree upon to focus our attention and time on to move Alaska Snowmobiling into the future.
Obviously the 600 lb gorilla in the room was the Snow Trac program. Most of the afternoon’s discussion centered on the program, its perceived and acknowledged problems, and what we wanted to do with it.  When we started to prioritize the above mentioned three items, it became evident that number one was what to do with the POS (Point of Sale, or Snow Trac) program. Numbers two, three, four and five all depended on the outcome of number one.
The number one directive that ever participant in the conference had was fixing Snow Trac. There were three ways discussed that that fix could be effected.
1. Move Snow Trac from a DNR advisory board into a Snow Trac dedicated board under the Governors Divison of Boards and Commissions. This option gives Snow Trac much more authority to direct the program as it sees fit
2. Move Snow Trac into an NGO that would administer the snowmobile registration money outside of the current government options.
3. Leave the program where it is and attempt to fix/influence it as it stands.
There were pros and cons to each option. We really don’t have time in the space we have here to fully cover all of the discussions, but each option had its adherents. With our limited space here, we can only cover the majority choice.
The majority chose to pursue Option 1, moving Snow Trac from the DNR oversight to a regional board that would be assigned to the Governor’s Division of Boards and Commissions. This option gave Snow Track several advantages. They would still report a division of state Boards, but would have much greater autonomy and visibility for the processes and outcomes. Additionally they wouldn’t be subject to the budgetary process via the division of parks and the DMV. The budgetary process would be different, and they would be responsible for their own budget requests, not necessarily tied into the DMV process.
When part of the discussion you have is the director of state parks telling you that he has no issue with the program moving away from his department and “to strike now while the iron is hot”, likely tells us we are on the right track. Throughout this summer, those attendees who were at the conference will all be individually and as a group, contacting legislators and staff with the intention of being successful with Option 1. Space limitations keeps this column short, but I will be preparing a complete report on the Summit. Please contact your club board members for the entire package of information.
In the meantime, enjoy the time you have to fix and get your sled ready for next season. By then we may be talking to our SnowTrac board members who have a new structure…..

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