Snowmobiling is a sport that the local economy in Northern Vermont depends on. Each year, thousands of out-of-staters travel to experience the snowy mountain trails and amazing views. Freshly groomed trails make the snow smooth and are essential for winter sports and activities.
Lyndon Sno Cruisers Club is one of 138 statewide snowmobile clubs within the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers that grooms the trails in the rural town of Sheffield, Vermont each year. But when their groomer went out of commission, the town was on the brink of delaying their winter activities, negatively impacting local businesses that rely on the winter tourism.
“Groomers cost about $250,000 and that is an amount almost impossible for a snowmobile club to purchase, even with local bank loans and support from the nonprofit state snowmobile organization (Vermont Association of Snow Travelers VAST),” said Al Robertson, a member of the Lyndon Sno Cruisers Club.
In December 2020, the Lyndon Sno Cruisers Club applied for a USDA Rural Business Development Grant for $99,000 to help purchase a trail groomer. This grant program helps fund projects benefitting rural areas or towns. The purchase of the trail groomer kept the snowmobile club and winter activities active and allowed Sheffield businesses to keep their doors open with support of the tourism that season.
“Our snowmobile club is over 50 years old; we now have a very high-quality groomer that should last at least 15 to 20 years and that will allow us to both keep up our trail quality, save for future equipment and have a permanent home for the groomer,” Robertson said.
Find out how RD can assist your rural business or cooperative by visiting the Rural Business Development Grant Program page for more information.