CONCORD, N.H. — Who would ever have imagined a Maine winter where snowmobilers have nothing to do but lament a lack of snow?

It’s not just Maine, though. A warm winter is proving to be a double whammy for snowmobilers in all of northern New England.

Not only are thousands of miles of trails closed because of a lack of snow, but the corresponding drop in snowmobile registration and club membership could jeopardize money that clubs hoped to get in future years.

In Maine, frustration is setting in as winter dwindles to its final weeks.

John Cates, of Buckfield, usually rides with the Streaked Mountaineers on the vast network of trails in that area. But not this year.

“Not only have I not been able to ride locally,” he said, “our club hasn’t even had the big grooming equipment out. Bummer! We are volunteers like most clubs but rely on grooming hours to help with expenses through the state grant system.”


Rebecca Howard, a Rumford woman who works for a Massachusetts company, said she had been trying to plan a snowmobile ride from the wind farm in Woodstock to the one in South Carthage.

“And it would have been a perfect destination ride for the River Valley area,” she said, “amazing free cookout, Red Sox tickets to give away and it looks like it is all going to be canceled. So, I’m disappointed.”

The Sebago Lake Ice Fishing Derby, an annual tradition in typical winters, has been canceled, although the Cumberland County Derby is still set to take place this weekend.

Around the state, people who would normally be eking fun out of the Maine winter are instead expressing frustration and hoping for the best from what remains of the season.

“My husband and I haven’t even registered our sled this year,” said Sally Townsend Theriault of Rumford. “Wicked bummer. There is still time for snow, though, so we’re not giving up hope!”

In Lewiston, a member of the Hillside Snowmobile Club put it even more succinctly: “It really stinks,” he said, “and is awful on Maine’s economy.”

In New Hampshire, the state distributes some of what it collects in registration fees to clubs for grooming equipment purchases and other projects. The state is considering a two-year moratorium on capital equipment grants because so little money is coming in.

The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers also might put its equipment grant program on hold because of dropping membership.

Maine officials likewise are watching the situation carefully, saying a dip in registrations could affect grants next year.

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