Snowmobile club keeps trails open

David Bray works hard to maintain something he doesn't want the people of Moffat County to lose -- the ability to snowmobile safely.

As president of the Northwestern Colorado Snowmobile Club, Bray and other members maintain about 100 miles of trails in Moffat and Routt counties throughout the winter months.

"The real purpose of the club is to keep trails open and groom trails," he said. "Somebody needs to groom the trails and keep the sport going."

Club members use a $90,000 grooming machine to maintain the trails twice a week. They receive money from the Colorado Snowmobile Association, as do other communities, to maintain local trails. These funds come from the $20-a-year registration fee for each snowmobile.

"All snowmobilers need to register their machine because that money comes back out to groom trails," Bray said.

The group gets permits from the U.S. Forest Service for trails and works with private landowners to have three trailheads in Moffat County.

"They're all right here pretty close to us," Bray said.

The group involves about 40 members, who start grooming in low country and work their way into high country. But Bray said not every route snowmobilers take is cut for them.

"People like to get off the trail and play in the powder," he said.

Club members like to play, too, and they meet every Sunday for "fun rides" together. They gather at Craig Middle School at 9 a.m.

"Anybody can come any Sunday and go with us," Bray said.

Participation in the club is important to keep the snowmobile trails available, Bray said. Members think it's good for other reasons, too.

"Going by yourself's a no-no. You don't want to do that," Dave Watson said. "(With club rides), somebody's always there to help."

Charlie Dial's snowmobile has been a useful form of transportation for him.

"To get up on top of the mountain where you can't get in the summer, there are great views," he said. "If I had to hike there, I'd never get there."

Watson agreed, saying he can make it somewhere in 15 minutes on a snowmobile where it would take him all day to walk.

Club members concede that snowmobiling and the maintenance of trails are important to the community, and they intend to keep doing what they're doing as long as they can.

"If there's no one working with the forest service keeping the trails open, you could end up without any place to ride," Bray said. "Somebody needs to keep the club going."

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