Study agrees: Snowmobilers add millions to state, local economies

Snowmobiling brings in about $232 million to the state and local economies, according to Elizabeth Krug, board president of the Pennsylvania State Snowmobile Association (PSSA).

Extrapolating from over 400 respondents to a survey, the average snowmobiler took 8.3 day trips within the state, 2.6 overnight trips, purchased 266 gallons of fuel and spent $779 per in-state trip for food, lodging and other trip expenses.

Locally, “It’s a boon if we have snow,” said Ed Atwood, president of the Tionesta Valley Snowmobile Club (TVSC). He said any businesses with access to local trails do well in the winter season.

“Phil Cerra, when he had the Mineral Well (restaurant), would open his books at township meetings to show how much of a difference they made. He said, ‘Without the snowmobiles, we would have no business.'”

Atwood said the addition snowmobilers bring to area businesses makes a 40 percent difference in a good year.

He said the TVSC built and has maintained a 120-mile loop trail, and 360 total trail miles with connections to Lantz Corners and Kane. There is also access to Allegany State Park if the snowmobiles are registered in New York.

Atwood added that while there is a gas station at Lantz Corners, the trail system could use a gas station and convenience store somewhere along the loop as larger machines need one-and-a-half tanks of gas to complete the route. He said there are some indications that a fueling station could return to the site of the former Graybill’s Marine on Route 321.

“There is a saying in Maine that they (the snowmobilers) come with a leather suit, a helmet, a snowmobile and a gold card,” he said. “They need a place to stay, a place to eat and gasoline. We call them ‘muppears’ because they come up here to have a good time.”

Krug said the PSSA favors an increase in snowmobile registration fees, because a portion of those are returned to the clubs and volunteers for building and maintaining trails. She said that there are around 3,000 miles of trails on private lands, and a similar amount on state lands.

Another concern is the increase of truck traffic for oil and natural gas operations. She said many of the trails are on multiple-use roads, and plowing is frequently done after the trails have been groomed.