Northland Snowmobile Clubs Busy Grooming Trails

DULUTH, Minn. — It was a beautiful Friday afternoon in January, with the sun shining and snowmobilers ready to hit the trails. Two of the people riding their sleds know the trails they’ve been riding on are in such good shape because of volunteers from local snowmobile clubs. “The trails are really good,” said Kenny Melanson of Proctor. “They are very good. Since that storm someone’s done a lot of work, it’s very nice.”

There are about 22,000 miles of snowmobile trails in Minnesota, the DNR cares for about 1,000 miles. Local snowmobile club volunteers take care of and groom the other 21,000 miles of snowmobile trails in the state.  Jerry Kortesmak is a member of one of those snowmobile clubs, the Hermantown Night Riders. “The DNR takes care of the main trail, the north-south trails and all the connector trails, the commuter trails that go into the bars and restaurants and fuel stops are maintained by the local club,”  he said.

Based on his experience, and comments he’s heard from others, Kortesmak says many snowmobilers are not aware of the huge impact volunteers have on the sport. “It’s heart breaking when people make the comments thinking that we work for the DNR when we’re out there on our own personal snowmobiles, our own personal chain saws and had saws and buying our own gas. It’s disheartening for some of our volunteers.”

To accomplish all they do, clubs need more members and you don’t have to be a snowmobiler to join. Chris Jacobson, the Vice President of  the Hermantown Night Riders, says the clubs offer more than simply groomed trails. “We always need more help, more support,” said Jacobson. “For me the snowmobiles trail has been more than just about snowmobiles and trails, it’s a network, it’s a community, friendships that last a lifetime.”

After a few hours on the trails today,  Melanson had this to say, “a big thank you for one, look at the brush they had to cut lately and the snow pack it takes a lot of grooming to get the trials in good condition.”

The Hermantown Night Riders will be holding an event next Thursday night at the Black Woods Grill & Bar in Proctor for people to learn more about the club. More information about the event is available at  the club’s website: hermantownnightriders.com

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