For over 35 years, Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association(MnUSA) members and volunteers have worked to preserve and protect snowmobiling in Minnesota and across the United States through legislative initiatives, trail development and involvement in land access for trails. Here are some of theaccomplishments and milestones:
Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association Protects Snowmobiling at the Legislature
1982 – Legislation passed creating the Snowmobile Dedicated Trails & Enforcement Account
1983 – MnUSA supports tourism budget increase and the creation of a separate tourism department
1984 – Legislature requests Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner to present a plan of consideration for combining Trails & Waterways and Parks & Recreation. MnUSA opposes
1986 – MnUSA is successful in getting legislation passed giving municipalities limited liability in lawsuits based on their participation in the grant-in-aid program
1990 – MnUSA supports appropriation of funds for purchase and development of Paul Bunyan Trail and Bemidji to International Falls Blue Ox Trail
1991 – Registration fee increased from $18 to $30 for 3 years to fund trails
1992 – MnUSA is successful in getting legislation passed, limiting liability of snowmobile clubs and allowing them the same protection as municipalities
1994 – Legislature passes stronger landowner liability bill. Landowners who open their land for snowmobiling are now better off legally than if the land remained closed to snowmobiling
1997– Registration fee increases from $30 to $45 for 3 years
1997 – Legislature changes law regarding training for youthful operation
1997-1998 – Non-resident snowmobile trail permit required
1998 – Legislature passes complete ban on studs effective 1999-2000
1999 – MnUSA leads initiative and successfully reverses stud ban. Nearly 40,000 signatures were collected supporting MnUSA’s position
1999 – Legislature passes increase in unrefunded gas tax to 1%
2002 - Successful in protecting gas tax at 1% of unrefunded gas tax. This provided funding for over 2500 club trails to be added into the grant-in-aid system.
2003-2005 - MnUSA successfully protected the funds in the snowmobile dedicated account from raids during the budget crunch where all funds were available to cover the deficit.
There is a $1.5 million appropriation for 2006-07 to go to clubs in the grant-in-aid system.
2004-2005 - MnUSA successful in obtaining legislation which allows for two-way snowmobile trails in road rights of way, where necessary and appropriate, with consent of the local road authority. This is a safety issue on many trails where the road ditch is two steep or has obstacles that would hinder snowmobiling.
2005 - MnUSA supports increased funding to the clubs for grant-in-aid trails. The legislature provided this additional funding through a trail pass for all grant-in-aid and state trail users. The enabling legislation provided that these funds could only be used for grant-in- aid, trail maintenance, grooming, and easement acquisition.
In 2005-06 designated trails were added to the grant-in-aid system on major lakes in St. Louis, Cook and Koochiching County and statewide the clubs were given a 20% increase in their grants.
2007-08 - MnUSA successfully promotes legislation to appropriate an increase in grant-in-aid funding to the clubsfor trail maintenance and grooming.
2008 - MnUSA successful in opposing legislation to revoke payment to snowmobile dedicated account of unrefunded gas tax on snowmobile fuel
2009-12 - MnUSA prevents raids on dedicated account and protects funding sources.
2012 - MnUSA successful in obtaining legislation to combine the trail pass and registration into one sticker and dedicating a greater percentage of the funds to grant-in-aid trail maintenance.
2012 - MnUSA successful in obtaining legislation that allows studded snowmobile tracks on asphalt state trails unless DNR Commissioner determines it is not appropriate on trail by trail basis.
2012- MnUSA leads other non-profit trail groups to obtain legislation reducing the tort liability limit on recreational trails to $1 million.
2012 - MnUSA works with federal legislators to obtain continued funding for the Federal Recreational Trails Program which is funded by a portion of federal off-road gas tax.
2013 - MnUSA works with coalitions to protect access to private lands and protect snowmobile rentals
2014 - MnUSA successful in obtaining sales tax exemption on grooming equipment allowing non-profit grant-in-aid clubs additional funds to spend on trails.
2014 - MnUSA successful in obtaining legislation to prohibit tampering of odometers on recreational vehicles.
2014 - MnUSA, with support of DNR, redefines a snowmobile to more clearly explain what vehicles can use snowmobile trails, providing safer trails for the users.
Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association Works with Government Agencies for Snowmobiling
1985 – MnUSA and Minnesota Office of Tourism partner to create a Snowmobile Minnesota promotional video
1985 – First MnUSA Legislative Wine & Cheese Reception held
1985 – North Shore State Trail dedicated
1986 – Taconite Trail dedicated
1988 – First of 4 quadrant maps published in cooperative effort of DNR Trails & Waterways, MnUSA and the snowmobile manufacturers
1988-1989 – Through cooperation with the International Snowmobile Council, provides liability insurance for trail associations
1989 – First annual Governor’s Ride with Governor Rudy Perpich in Bemidji sponsored by Arctic Cat
1990 – Governor Perpich forms Snowmobile Task Force – “As an industry and an activity, snowmobile tourism has become so important to Minnesota economy.”
1991 – CanAm Trail opening
1992-1993 – Paul Bunyan Trail link between Brainerd and Bemidji open for snowmobiling
1995-1996 – Minnesota Interconnected Trail System (MITS) established with major east/west and north/south routes
1996 – Minnesota Snowmobile Advisory Council (MSAC) created from a cross section of snowmobile related interests
1996 – 65/35 Implementation Plan and additional snowmobile funding solutions released
1997 – Statewide Snowmobile Trail Plan released
1999 ---Pilot program initiated to create a Performance Based Grant Program guaranteeing clubs grant payments, even in “no snow” years
2001 – Statewide Snowmobile Trail System Plan Update released.
2002-2009 - MnUSA hosts a Governor’s Ride and State Legislative Rides at the MnUSA Rendezvous to bring understanding of recreational snowmobiling to participants.
2005 - MnUSA contracts with the University of Minnesota to complete a snowmobile economic impact study. Study shows snowmobiling to be a $1 billion business in Minnesota and helps to create awareness of the need to support the snowmobile trail system in Minnesota.
2006 - MnUSA Works with DNR on development of statewide performance grant-in-aid program for clubs and funding for trail maintenance and grooming
2007 - MnUSA initiates corridor trail signing program for ease of travel by snowmobile across the state.
2009 - MnUSA supports increased funding to DNR for grooming on state trails.
2012 - MnUSA supports DNR legislation to allow for a mentoring program for non-snowmobilers to test ride snowmobiles.
2013 - MnUSA supports Explore Minnesota Tourism legislation for increased funding for marketing in Minnesota.
Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association Protects Snowmobiling on Federal Land
1978 – National Park Service (NPS) proposes snowmobiles only be used on major lakes in the Voyageurs National Park (VNP). MnUSA becomes involved.
1979 – NPS conducts public hearings on the rules for snowmobiles in the US National Parks
1990 – Voyageurs Regional National Park Association files suit to close snowmobiling in VNP
1991 – NPS proposes Wilderness Designation in VNP
1991 – First National Recreational Trails Funding Act passed for trail grants
1993 – Victory in Voyageurs! 8th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed VNP bay closures and confirmed snowmobiling has no identifiable impact on wildlife (Endangered Species Act)
1997 – Fund for Animals, et al, files suit to require National Park Service to complete study of snowmobile damage in Yellowstone National Park
2004-2006 - Coordinates a snowmobile ride for federal legislative staff members and legislators.
2002-2014- MnUSA representatives attend an annual snowmobile Fly-In in Washington DC and visit federal legislators. In 2005 MnUSA testifies concerning snowmobile use in Voyageurs National Park and Yellowstone before a House hearing.