“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!