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Lewis County snowmobiling ride highlights trail conditions, economic benefit

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BARNES CORNERS — Snowmobile clubs from Lewis County hosted an 80-mile trail ride Thursday, showing off stellar trail conditions while visiting local establishments.

“The snowmobile clubs really do a great job with trails,” said Lewis County Legislator Neil H. Pepper, R-Brantingham, as the group stopped at Doyle’s Pub and Restaurant after departing from the Barnes Corners Sno-Pals groomer barn hours earlier.

Mr. Pepper was the sole legislator in attendance. Legislative Chairman Michael A. Tabolt, R-Croghan, was unable to participate as he is recovering from shoulder surgery, but joined the group at Tuggers Bar and Grill for a luncheon at the conclusion of the ride.

“I left a busy day at the courthouse to show support and acknowledge the efforts of the clubs,” he said.

Three legislators were obliged to interview for the information technology department, while weather and illness prevented others, according to Mr. Tabolt.

Stephen C. Lewis, director of snowmobiling for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, spoke to the group, asking representatives from the clubs how he can help.

Volunteers, he noted, are holding chicken barbecues on the weekends to help their clubs survive.

Snowmobiling tourism contributed $868 million to the state’s economy last year, he said.

He encouraged Mr. Tabolt to look at the county budget to see the economic impact that snowmobiling brings to the county.

“What percent of that $868 million comes into your county when this is the number one area to ride?” he asked.

Mr. Lewis said the agency is working on proposals to be brought to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to alleviate the financial stresses of the clubs due in part to a reduced number of registered snowmobiles.

“People are not registering,” he said. “That’s your lifeblood. If they aren’t registering, they are stealing.”

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