Our November meeting is Wednesday November 13 at the Royal Canadian Legion at 7:30pm.
“What I like best about grooming: Being out in nature, enjoying the trails and making them nice for sledders. It is work that seems to be much appreciated” a quote from one of our best! Our snowcat operators have the best job! When the trails are ready for grooming, it is like icing the cake. Grooming is an art of timing and technique with all sorts of conditions: If it is not cold enough-it doesn’t set as well, whether there is enough fresh snow to make a difference, is there a good base, are all the trees cleaned from the trail or at least pushed to the side, are the creeks all set in, is there enough snow to push etc?
Our snowcat operators have lots of pride in what they do and it shows in their grooming. The main fellows that we can thank over the past 15+ years are Alex Manweiler, Dale Gunderson, Harold Bellwood from Fox Creek, Dave Newbury, Don Price, Jim Hearn, Derek Rooks. We also have other folks that have been a part of the team for shorter periods: Nick Slootweg, Wayne Bronson, Ken Vanderburg, Ernst Engeroff and Lambert Veenstra. Of course there are the co-pilots and wives who have helped along the way, keeping these guys company on their long rides and helping to remove debris from the trail-thanks to you all.
In September 2003, we became owners of our first reconditioned 1995 Bombardier BR 400MP and Mogul Master Drag. Prior to this, we would hire a snow cat to groom our system. It was a lot of work by the Club and community to raise funds of $80,000-$100,000 which were $.50 dollars with a grant. The other part of the equation was to work with the Town and County to gain access to maintenance and storage facilities. A Lease for $1.00 was signed with the Town of Whitecourt for the equipment. A big thank you to all those folks who were involved in this fundraising initiative.
We currently have 2 snow cats that we lease for $1.00 with the Town of Whitecourt. We store them in town in the off season and then we move them out to their winter storage areas, to enable quicker access to the trails. Snow cats will run about 8 miles an hour. The guys generally drive them 4-6 miles an hour, dependent on terrain and corners/straight aways. Our snow cats and snowmobile trail drag systems are valued at $300,000.00. We have 485kms of trails and we groom the more popular trails weekly. Some of the trails with less traffic, will be groomed every 2 – 3 weeks, as conditions warrant. Whitecourt is well known for having one of the best groomed trail systems in the Alberta. Our annual grooming budget is $40,000. We plan on grooming 6000 KMS annually / 600 hours of grooming time. Our annual trail brushing program budget is $30,000 – to remove willows, alders and underbrush growth on the trails during the off season in order to keep the trails safe and free of debris. (in the perfect year with no blowdown or major windstorms). It costs $195 per km – Our annual costs to maintain the trails are $90,000 annually / $195 per km of Trail. These costs include; grooming, brushing, replacing stolen and vandalized signage, repairing trail damage due to ATV traffic, and snow cat repairs. However, this does not include groomer replacement or time and equipment donated by Club Volunteers for trail cleaning. The Club’s net proceeds from the sale of “ONE Annual ASA Trail Pass” allows the Club to maintain 250 Metres of Trail for the season. Every little bit helps, so thank you for purchasing your ASA Trail Pass.
Thanks to all those folks who have made this happen over the years, you are awarded by your peers, Club members, community and mostly the riders who come because you have done a superb job with our award winning trails. We can’t wait to get out an enjoy them this winter!!!!! Thank you all snow cat operators in Alberta who keep this winter sport alive!
We are searching for vintage sleds and gear to display at our 2020 Sled Invasion rally checkpoints. Vintage items would be displayed at our checkpoints that we will designate as a decade eg: 60/70’s, 80s, 90s. If you have any gear or sleds that you would be willing to display please contact us. We would ask that you take your sled into the checkpoint and then pick it up at the end of the day; you do not have to stay, just deliver and pick up.
Alberta Relic Riders Club will be here at the 40th Anniversary Sled Invasion on Friday night for our World Record Breaking Snowmobile Parade as well they will have a display of their sleds on Saturday. Make sure to check them out and for more information you can go on their Facebook Page for updates.
STV 2015 (starting at Minute 2:00) they have a clip on the Relic Riders and 2015 World Snowmobile Invasion.
Join us for our General Meeting to discuss the upcoming season and updates on trails. 7:30pm at the Royal Canadian Legion.
A reminder about the Town of Whitecourt Bylaw regarding OHV – speed and allowance for seasonal use between December 1 and March 31
Over the past 40 years, there are many “Club Volunteer Champions” that have worked behind the scenes with the forestry, oilfield and SRD/AB Parks and Environment to ensure the Club was in compliance and lines of communication were open with our industry partners.
Since the beginning, there were partnerships formed with the Alberta government. Our trails and Eagle River Staging Development Area were originally built and maintained by the Alberta Forest Service. Throughout the past 40 years the Forestry and the Club have worked together to form a partnership and agreement to have the Club acquire, expand and develop the trails and Eagle River Staging Area. Thank you to our contacts throughout the years -Gordon Bisgrove, Cliff Henderson, Mark Ross, Ed Dechant, Cyril Lanctot, Everett Smith, Mike Penner, Dennis York, Brian Wallick, Wilson Nelson, Shereen Threnchard, George Robertson, Mike Parks, Bruce Vanos and David Geddes. We still have a good relationship with Alberta Parks and Environment (SRD) and appreciate their support and guidance.
Our trails are a valuable resource and if industry users are planning on working on or near our trails by roads, pipelines, leases or cutblocks, we ask that they are in compliance with the CNT Restrictions. Our local trail system is held under CNT designation which identifies it on the provincial data as a recognized snowmobile trail. When industrial users on the landscape or are going to cross or work alongside the trail, a consultation process is initiated by the Alberta Parks and Environment. The industrial users are then required to consult with the snowmobile clubs on how their activities can be conducted and minimize any impacts to the trails and provide safety considerations to the snowmobilers. Working with oilfield and other companies creates it’s own set of challenges, but we are certainly open to having discussions and connecting with these companies when our trails are in the area of a new project. The consultation process is completed prior to project start up, and the safety of riders and the public is always the first priority. There are protocols with stakeholders and these expectations are shared with them. Potential points of conflict that cannot be resolved are then tabled with the Alberta Parks and Environment who makes the final decisions that is in the best interest of all stakeholders . |We have made it easy for companies to contact us on the “Trail Impactors” tab, via our website. By notifiying us, they are respecting our trails.
Through the Forestry Industry, we have built great partnerships as well. Our trail system is in the Forest Management Areas of Millar Western, Blue Ridge Lumber (West Fraser), Weyerhauser and Woodlands County. Some of the individuals that we have had great working relationships with have been Dave Martell, Bob Leslie, Dave Carter, Bruce West, Brian Milligan, Brian Davies, Jim Halawell, Thomas Lee, Tyler Pell, Ken Anderson, Bob Mason, Tim McCready, Shane Sadoway and Louise Riopel. We have also worked with Alberta Newsprint on a few projects. Our relationships were built in the 1980’s and we still strive to maintain them. The relationships have had struggles; however, we believe that we are working together well. Just recently we met with Millar Western and Blue Ridge (West Fraser) and the snowmobile Clubs of Fox Creek, Swan Hills and Whitecourt to help build the communication between all groups. Annually, we will plan to meet to have discussions in a sensible and open manner. In addition, thank you to Alex Manweiler who has sat on 2 committees with Millar – first the DFMP (Detailed Forest Management Plan) and then the PAC (Public Advisory Committee) for a total of 16 years and is a representative for the Trailblazers.
Not only have all the Presidents and Vice Presidents worked with these companies, but there are also other Executives that have supported the Club through their knowledge with oilfield, forestry and SRD/Parks and Environment. Over the past 10 years, we developed a position on our Executive that oversees these notices and conversations with companies – thanks to Jeff Brooks and Lennie Bilodeau who are the first point of contact. Other members that have been our Industry Liaisons have been our past Trail Bosses – Cyril Lanctot, George Vanberg, Nick Slootweg, Gordon Quinn, Doug Hay, Mike Pasula, Ken Bobst, Glen Kingdon, Dale Gunderson, Alex Manweiler, Mark Gray, Randy Matthews, Dave Bradley, Chet Brewster, Mitch Sharp, David MacLeod, Don Price and Dave Newbury.
A special thank you to all of our industry contractors that have helped along the way with our trails – G. MacRitchie Forestry Services, Strydhorst Contracting, Wayne Reynders Trucking, Phillip Lewis Contracting, Woodlands County, Clean Harbors Energy Services, Roszko Farm Equipment Limited, Total Oilfield, X-treme Energy Services, Blue Ridge Lumber, Alberta Newsprint Company, Paul Flasha Contracting, Hilltop Mobile Home Park, Millar Western Industries, Bob Burns Trucking, Kana Oilfield Service, Brian and Jason Thomas Contracting, Morgan Construction, Marla Trucking, Mega C Steaming, Jason Foster and Progressive Forestry Contracting.
(If we missed you in this article, our apologies).
Thanks to all of our Industry supporters and volunteers in the Club. Trails don’t just magically appear or clean themselves. You are all appreciated!! We look forward to many more years of partnerships like we have had!
We are very excited to announce the Whitecourt Trailblazers’ 2020 – 40th Anniversary Sled Invasion on February 14-16th (Family Day Weekend). Here is the itinerary for the weekend:
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 14:
3:00pm – 6:00pm – Registration for World Record Snowmobile Parade (Whitecourt Seniors/Rotary Park)
-Pre Registration Saturday’s Rally
6:00pm – 8:30pm – World Record Snowmobile Parade (Whitecourt Seniors Circle)
9:00pm – 10:00pm Freestyle (X-Games) (Downtown-Mainstreet Whitecourt)
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 15:
8:00am -11:00am – Registration for Rally
9:00am-3:30pm – Rally
1:30pm – 3:30pm -Pre-registration for Sunday Rally
4:00pm – 5:00pm -40th Anniversary Presentations and prizes
7:00pm – Concert presented by Whitecourt Woodlands Performing Arts
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 16:
8:00am -11:00am – Registration for Rally
9:00am-3:30pm – Rally – North side
4:00pm – 5:30pm – 40th Anniversary Presentations, prizes and sled draw
5:30pm – 6:30pm – 2nd Freestyle Event
JOIN US FOR A WEEKEND OF FAMILY FUN, LOTS OF REMINISCING AND CELEBRATING OUR PAST 40 YEARS OF SNOWMOBILING AS THE WHITECOURT TRAILBLAZERS CLUB