LABRADOR WEST, N.L.
It was just before New Years when members of the White Wolf Snowmobile Club went out to place markers on little Wabush Lake and other areas of the clubs trail. Club president Eldon Wheaton told The Aurora, “The next day we went out to continue the work, the markers were missing.”
Wheaton says the markers were being used as a test.
“They are for safety,” he explained. “If nobody is out and it gets stormy or if there is wind and it's drifting, the markers will help them to stay on the trail.”
The markers are also used as a guide for club staff if they have to go out in difficult conditions and respond to an emergency, or deal with a problem on the trail.
Wheaton says the markers were designed so they couldn’t blow down, and he says they were definitely taken. He says the markers are unique and asks if anyone sees them to let the club know.
Meanwhile, Wheaton is pleased with current membership numbers. Earlier this year there was concern that a lot of people were using the trail without buying passes, but that has turned around.
“We had meetings with RNC, Forestry, Fisheries and MHA (Graham) Letto — all were on board and there were plans to do weekly patrols,” he said. “I’m happy to say that right now our membership is above the 1,300 member mark, last year we didn’t get to 1,300.”
The club did an audit last year and they discovered it costs about $400 per kilometre of trail, to keep it in good condition for the season. The club has about 500 kms of trail, so the cost of keeping the trail open is obvious.
Wheaton says last year the club almost had to finish grooming early because they were running out of money.
He notes that having the trails in good condition is in a way a money saver for snowmobile operators. He says one member told him when the trails weren’t groomed he was going through five or six belts a year (at about $125 each). Now he says a belt can last him up to three years. Having the trails in good condition also reduces the amount of maintenance a lot of operators have to do.
Right now all the trails are open and groomed. Wheaton encourages everyone to enjoy the trails safely.
He says Sunday family barbecues are starting. There is a $5 fee for coals, and that gets you a baked potato as well.
And Wheaton encourages members to show up at their annual meeting. That takes place Monday, Jan. 21 at 8 p.m.