Iowa snowmobilers would pay a new $15 fee, to raise money to improve snowmobile trails under a bill now on its way to the governor’s desk.

Senator Dennis Black, a Democrat from Grinnell, said the Iowa State Snowmobile Association has been pushing for the fee.

“Their members want that,” Black said. “They need that money so they can expand and extend those trails across the state.”

Senator Merlin Bartz, a Republican from Grafton, said his north central part of the state is in a competion for snowmobilers and the proposed changes will help.

“Minnesota and Wisconsin are very savvy in how they court snowmobiling,” Bartz said. “…Hopefully this bill will take care of that issue and we’ll have more snowmobilers actually coming into Iowa to ride.”

Bartz, though, warned the bill also bans “water-skipping” a snowmobile.

“Water-skipping is a feat of actually taking a snowmobile and actually riding over open water,” Bartz said.

Bartz suggested a few summer “water skipping” festivals may be shut down as a result. Critics say snowmobiles that sink during these events wind up spilling oil and gas into the water.

AUDIO of senate debate of bill. 

If Governor Branstad signs the bill into law, yearly snowmobile registration fees would remain at $15, but Iowa snowmobilers would pay an additional $15 fee for driving on public lands, a fee that’s currently charged only to out-of-state snowmobilers.