On Jan. 31, the Forest Service set up a roadblock near Avery, Idaho, to stop snowmobilers gathered for the St. Joe Snow Riders Breast Cancer Benefit Ride. They were not there to check required Idaho state snowmobile registrations but to make a first endeavor to enforce a 2-year-old Shoshone County ordinance requiring individual “groomer fees.”
Shoshone is one of only two Idaho counties that attempts to collect an additional fee, a practice of dubious legality since it amounts to a double charge for trail grooming. That expense is already part of the state-required registration fee.
After some discussion, the ride was finally allowed to continue. Unfortunately, upcoming benefit rides have been canceled until this controversy can be resolved. A number of out-of-state, out-of-town, and local riders have contacted the club to say they will not be back. And, unfortunately, the situation impacts area businesses from St. Maries all the way up the St. Joe River to Avery, businesses that depend on snowmobile enthusiasts for winter income.
The local snowmobile club is a nonprofit organization, sponsoring rides for local charities, grooming trails and helping maintain Forest Service facilities in the winter. A roadblock? Come on!
Don and Martha Darter