Governor's Snowmobile Ride promotes sport in Hills - KOTA Territory News

Governor's Snowmobile Ride promotes sport in Hills

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Just about two months into the season, Black Hills snowmobilers finally have a decent amount of snow to play in.

That's welcome news for riders who showed up for Saturday's 33rd annual Governor's Snowmobile Ride.

And even though Gov. Dennis Daugaard got sick and couldn't make it, it was a chance for the state's 28 snowmobile clubs to remind people why it's important.
 
"The economic impact of snowmobiling ... between manufacturing, lodging, rentals, gas sales," said South Dakota Snowmobile Association president Greg Hiles, "it's around $131 million a year."
 
He said that number depends heavily on the trail system.
 
"[The season] got off to a slow start, but the snow is awesome right now," said Hiles. "It's great to see a full parking lot."
 
But just having snow isn't enough.

Trails program specialist Tony Schmitt said every once in a while, lawmakers need a little reminder of just how many people the 350 miles of trails in the Hills bring in.
 
"You hear a lot of them say, you know, we wouldn't own a sled if we couldn't head west," Schmitt said.
 
And even with the sport's popularity in the state, at least one lawmaker there said it might not be so easy for everyone in the statehouse to see the real impact of high quality trails.
 
"I grew up on snowmobiles," said Sen. Tim Rave, R-District 25, "so I know and understand the trail system, why it's important, why it's a draw for people to come out and have fun and spend money in South Dakota, but if you're not part of that, you do need to educate people about it."
 
"It's all about fun to show our legislators, hey, we have a great trail system, let's keep it that way," added Schmitt.

Also Saturday, the Sno-Trackers snowmobile club of Sioux Falls presented the SDSA with a $2,000 donation.

The snowmobile season closes in the Hills on March 31, and East River on March 15.

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