ELK COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – The recent weather is great for winter recreation, but did you know it also accounts for millions of dollars in our economy? That’s the message the DCNR highlighted on Friday in Elk County, as they push to expand snowmobiling in the Pennsylvania Wilds region.
Snowmobiling is a growing industry in Pennsylvania, and at the St. Marys Area Snowmobile Association, more than 150 members throughout Pa. and surrounding states hit the trails weekly for the camaraderie, fun, and the scenery.
“The scenery that you will see during snowmobiling in Pennsylvania is like no other,” said Jesse Cunningham, the vice president of the St. Marys Area Snowmobile Association.
From the day after rifle deer season ends, until April 1, any licensed snowmobile rider can navigate their way through the snow, and the hundreds of miles of trails spanning all across the state, including from St. Marys all the way to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.
“The length of trails and the length of time that you can ride has come a long way over the years,” Cunningham said.
According to Nathan Reigner, the state’s director of outdoor recreation, snowmobiling on DCNR lands has turned into a multi-million dollar industry over the years.
“Snowmobiling and its similar winter sports add $55 million to Pennsylvania’s economy,” Reigner said.
Snowmobile riding clubs like the St. Marys Snowmobile Association can be found all across Pennsylvania. Clubs like these connect riders across the state, offering a group to ride with. In St. Marys, $15 gets you a single year membership, more information on how to become a member is available on the club’s website here, or you can visit their Facebook page here.
And as DCNR’s secretary, Cindy Adams Dunn says, all the money from membership fees goes right into the trails you ride on.
“We turn it right back into the sport. In groomers and in grants, and the trails and bridges that it takes,” she said.
But as the industry grows, an uptick in problems comes with it. This past year, there has been more danger on the trail than the DCNR has seen before. With more accidents and speeding reported across the commonwealth.
“Really understand your capability, have a machine that works and get you there. Watch the speed. Speed limit on DCNR lands is 25 miles an hour,” Dunn said, adding that as new riders continue try out snowmobiling everyday, she offered riders some tips to ensure safety. “Have someone know when you’re due back, and know where your car is.”
by: Yanni Tragellis Posted: Feb 4, 2022 / 05:28 PM EST / Updated: Feb 4, 2022 / 05:28 PM EST