Snowmobile club in the Oxford County town of Dixfield
buys new trail maintenance equipment with USDA grant
Bangor, Dec. 14, 2023 – After years of planning, on Wednesday members of the Poodunck Snowmobile Club in Dixfield, Maine took delivery of their new trail grooming machine. The club used a $135,000 USDA Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) to help fund the purchase. Club members maintain more than fifty miles of trails in Maine’s Interconnected Trail System, including sections of busy ITS 89 and 82. Local riders and businesses will benefit from the new equipment, as will the many visitors who come to the area to enjoy the trails.
The same day the new equipment arrived in Dixfield, USDA Rural Development Maine State Director Rhiannon Hampson met with business leaders in nearby Rumford. One topic was the importance of outdoor recreation for the regional economy. “Protecting our natural and working lands is a treasured common ground for Mainers, and deeply rooted in generations of shared heritage,” said Director Hampson. “We recognize that Rural Development investments to support outdoor recreation help to create and protect spaces that are valuable to all of us.”
The Poodunck Snowmobile Club itself has a long heritage, with more than 50 years of service in the area. With about 100 members, a core group of volunteers maintains the trails, signage, and twenty bridges. Several years ago club leaders first realized they soon would need new grooming equipment to maintain trail quality and safety. However, they could not finance the purchase (over $200K) through fundraising alone. In 2022 they applied for an RBDG grant for the first time but were unsuccessful. Knowing that the USDA grant program is highly competitive, the club revised its proposal and applied again, finding success in 2023.
Maintaining Maine’s snowmobile trails is time-consuming and expensive. Trained members of the Poodunck club typically groom throughout the night and into the morning hours following a snowstorm. Colonel Holman Mountain is one of the most popular destinations in the club’s network, known far and wide for the vistas at its peak. The club members will be able to maintain the mountain trails more safely and efficiently thanks to the new groomer. Despite the rigorous conditions the trail grooming equipment will face, club leaders expect that it will serve them for more than 15 years, making it a long-term investment.
USDA Rural Development supports many types of businesses through its RBDG program and has recently announced awards in other Maine towns such as Machias. Reflecting on the grant for the snowmobile club, Director Hampson noted that USDA recognizes that essential investments take many shapes. “In Dixfield this week it takes the shape of a state-of-the-art snow grooming machine. We're proud to make this grant knowing that it not only helps the hardworking Poodunck Snowmobile Club but also supports the regional Interconnected Trail System. The ITS is a vital component of Maine’s winter economy.”
USDA’s competitive Rural Business Development Grant program funds projects that provide technical assistance and training for small rural businesses. Towns, nonprofits, business cooperatives, federally recognized tribes, and other entities are eligible to apply. Visit the Maine RBDG webpage (http://tinyurl.com/yhufpnam) or call (207) 990-9127 to learn more. The program is currently open and accepting applications through February 28, 2024.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.