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Success Stories

Slam Dunk for Poodunck: Safer, Eco-friendly Trail Grooming Machine

Leigh Hallett
Two men and two women stand in front of a snow grooming machine in a snowy field under a blue sky. They are dressed warmly, and there are leafless trees in the background.

December 13, 2023, was a happy day for the members of the Poodunck Snowmobile Club in Dixfield, Maine. That day they took delivery of their new trail grooming machine. The massive new Prinoth machine is state-of the art, replacing the club’s fifteen-year-old equipment. Trail maintenance is a constant effort for snowmobile clubs across Maine. There is cleanup, drainage work, and bridge repair to be done during the dry months. During the snow season, trails must be groomed after each snowfall and at other times to maintain the right conditions for the sport. Reliable equipment is a must.

The Poodunck Snowmobile Club in Western Maine maintains more than fifty miles of Maine’s Interconnected Trail System (ITS). Its trails include sections of busy ITS 89 and 82 and trails traversing Dixfield’s Colonel Holman Mountain. Snowmobiling generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for Maine businesses each winter. Businesses in the vicinity of the Poodunck club’s trails rely on the winter commerce generated by snowmobilers as well. Keeping the trails in good shape benefits these Western Maine businesses as well as winter outdoor recreation enthusiasts.

A man in an orange jacket drives a snow grooming machine through a snowy field.
Poodunck Trailmaster Dave Berry drives the new Prinoth Husky grooming machine in December 2023.

Club volunteers usually groom the snow on the trails in the dead of night following storms. In past years, the group’s trailmaster, Dave Berry, required assistance more than once after the club’s old grooming machine became mired in the woods in the night. The possibility of breakdowns and other problems on the steep terrain increasingly worried Berry and the other volunteers. They and the club’s leaders realized they would need to purchase a new grooming machine to maintain the quality of their rugged trails while keeping members safe.

As the club eyed new equipment, they learned that the machine they needed would cost well over $200K. This was far more than they could gather through fundraising efforts. In 2022 they applied for a USDA Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) for the first time but were unsuccessful. Knowing that the USDA grant program is highly competitive, the club revised its proposal and applied again, securing a $135,000 grant in 2023.

Thanks to their USDA Rural Development grant, the club purchased a Prinoth Husky grooming machine. With greater horsepower and more safety features than their old machine, members can rest easy knowing their volunteer trail groomers are safe conducting their nightly work in the back woods. What’s more, the new machine is fuel efficient and low emissions, meaning it is better for the environment in their beautiful Western Maine woods. Truly a slam dunk for Poodunck!

Obligation Amount:
Year(s) of Obligation:
Congressional District:
  • Maine: District 1