Great Falls Snowmobile Club expands efforts to support community needs
The Great Falls Snowmobile Club has been in existence since the early 1970s and in conjunction with the Meager County Snowmobile Club, King’s Hill Grooming Association, U.S. Forest Service and Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, they maintain more than 300 miles of groomed trails in the Little Belt Mountains near Great Falls.
The group rides all over the state and was started when the state determined trail grooming was important to tourism and established a tax that supports those efforts statewide.
The local club had a good year and recently elected president Bill McDaniel said the group has expanded their goals to include more community involvement.
McDaniel said that over the last season, they took a step back and looked at their mission statement and came up with four key words: community, advocacy, service and education.
The club hosts a scavenger hunt on snowmobiles, ‘Sled and Go Seek,’ with about $3,000 in prizes donated by local businesses. One of McDaniel’s friends is an app developer and made Trail Treker, which they use for the event. From proceeds generated from the entry fees, the club donated $400 to the Great Falls Community Food Bank in early April.
McDaniel said they’ve sort of adopted the food bank as the club’s charity and they’re hoping to do more to support it and other community needs.
“We had an incredible year as the club,” McDaniel said.
Of the four state level awards from the Montana Snowmobile Association, the Great Falls group was named club of the year and the snowmobiler and groomer of the year are members of the club. Now they’re up for national level awards.
Part of the state gas tax goes into the statewide grooming fund, which goes through Montana FWP for a state grant program down to the 26 clubs around the state. The amounts for each club are based on usage and the Great Falls club gets about $20,000 from the program to pay their groomer operator, equipment, maintenance and repairs.
The club participates in the annual Trans-Montana Snowmobile Charity Ride, which raises money for the Montana chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The club also donated an additional $300 for NAMI, McDaniel said.
The also donated about 50 toys to Toys for Tots over the holidays and held a movie night at Moose Park in the Little Belts around the holidays when about 85 people showed up on snowmobiles.
The club meets October through April and it’s $25 annually for a family membership. McDaniel said they have 110 paid memberships, which could equate to more people since those include family memberships. Want to learn more or join, visit: www.great-falls-snowmobile.org