New York Snowmobile Rights and Responsibilities Act. - June 16, 2005 the NYS Senate and Assembly passed the Snowmobile Rights and Responsibilities Act. Kudos to all the clubs and members who sent letters to their representatives. It truly made the difference.

The New York State Snowmobile Association (NYSSA) is firmly behind this legislation, the major feature of which is implementation of a registration system that will boost snowmobile club membership and promote expansion of a “volunteer workforce”; large enough to meet the daunting task and responsibility of developing and maintaining the 10,000 miles of trails that make up the state snowmobile trail system.

NYSSA and its 21,000 members and 214 snowmobile clubs are grateful to Assembly Joseph Morelle and Senator Raymond Meier, the prime sponsors of SRRA, and to all the other legislators who are helping to advance this bill on behalf of snowmobilers in this state.

While the bill is designed to promote voluntary club membership, it is first and foremost, a comprehensive snowmobile safety initiative. Experience in New York shows that club members, while likely the most active group of snowmobiles, are rarely involved in serious accidents. This outcome is directly attributed to the focus of snowmobile clubs on SAFETY. We at NYSSA are proud that the year after year, the evidence indicates that the safer riders are club members.

As proposed by SRRA, the snowmobile registration fee system will be “two tiered.” That is, club members will pay less to register their sleds in New York than non-club members. This will impart fairness to a situation where club members, not government employees, incur the costs and responsibilities of grooming and maintaining the state’s vast trail system; a system that is predominately located on non-public lands. Current fees for registering a sled is $45, with $10 of that amount going to the state for administration, and $35 going to the states trail fund. The fund is used to reimburse clubs for part of the cost they incur from trail grooming and maintenance and for providing liability coverage for the trail system.

SRRA proposes that the sled registration fee be $100, with $10 going to the state and $90 for deposit into the trail fund. To promote club membership, the fee will remain at $45 per registration if you are a member of a NYSSA-affiliated trail maintenance snowmobile club.

The other provisions of the bill to promote safe snowmobiling include an enumeration of rights and responsibilities of riders and clubs, raising the youthful operator age, imposing safety training requirements for certain riders, and establishing a maximum statewide speed limit of 55 mph for operation of a snowmobile on the public trail system.

SRRA is supported by NYSSA and the vast majority of those who regularly snowmobile in New York. This is a critical time for the future of snowmobiling in New York. The demands involved and the responsibility for the care of 10,000 miles of trail are stretching the limits of the present corps of volunteer club members. With the help of dedicated leaders like Assemblyman Morelle and Senator Meier, the enactment of SRRA will boost the pool of club volunteers and, at the same time, implement serious rider-safety initiatives that will make New York the premiere snowmobile trail system in the U.S.

• ACSA - - The American Council of Snomobile Associations is a national organization that was formed to unite the snowmobile community. Many snowmobilers are mistaken when they think national issues have no impact on their snowmobiling. Across the United States there are thousands and thousands of miles of snowmobile trails on public and private lands. Will these lands remain open for snowmobiling in the future? Long term use of the lands is no longer certain. Only the unified voice of the entire snowmobile community will help to guarantee the continuation of our sport.

Remember, an informed membership is the best way to protect our rights.