With plenty of snow this year, Iowa snowmobilers are lobbying for better trails and they’re willing to pay for them. The state Senate’s Natural Resources Committee is considering a bill that would double snowmobile registration fees, from $15 to $30, at the request of the Iowa Snowmobilers Association.
The group’s spokesman, Mike Heller, says snowmobiling is a local form of economic development. “We try and make the most of the winter weather and when you look at comparable states we have a fraction of the amount of resources,” Heller says. “We’d like to keep them in Iowa and attract them to Iowa to go snowmobiling.”
Heller says the fee hike would bring Iowa’s resources to more than $900,000 for upkeep on about 5,000 miles of trails, while South Dakota has similar resources for only 1,600 miles of trails. Heller says Iowa should be capitalizing more on its winter weather.
“We’ve had great snowfall and we’ve had wonderful sledding conditions in the state,” Heller says. “We want to make the most of it and we’re willing to pay for that opportunity. We have pretty active folks from all parts of the state. It’s not just in northern Iowa like it used to be.”
Snowmobile clubs and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources would share the money generated by higher registration fees. One Republican senator worried that additional fees would end up in administration at the Iowa D.N.R., which polices the trails and educates snowmobile drivers.