In a bid to renew faith in the Newfoundland and Labrador Snowmobile Federation (NLSF) and their commitment to the Northern Peninsula's trail network, the St. Anthony area will soon take receipt of a replacement groomer.
And you can thank the Northern Drifters Snowmobile club for the idea.
NLSF executive director Donnie O'Keefe said the Bombardier BR-180, which is currently in Gander, is one of their top groomers in their fleet of 21 machines and had clocked about 2000 hours.
It will replace the Lamtrac groomer which has been plagued with mechanical issues over the past two years and which last year ended up in the bog near St. Anthony.
Mr. O'Keefe said the Drifters requested a meeting with the NLSF committee following the annual general meeting held earlier this month.
"They basically said to us, ‘we don't want that thing back'," he said.
"It's had mechanical and hydraulic issues over the years and it wasn't suited to the terrain whereas the BR-180 is.
"It's in immaculate condition and hopefully once it gets up there it can hit the snow and restore and renew some faith up that way."
Mr. O'Keefe said the Lamtrac was a flat land groomer and would be suited to the Gander area adding that two clubs neighbouring Gander - Grand Falls and Terra Nova - have past experience with the Lamtrac model.
"We think this is a better fit for everyone, it's a win-win situation as far as the federation is concerned," he said.
The new BR-180, he said, had a wider track than the Lamtrac which meant it was more capable in heavier snow and the larger tracks made it more suited to the difficult terrain on the Northern Peninsula.
But he warned that no matter how good the machine is, it's still a machine and nature can still be cruel.
"Last year we had the BRs on the back of Marble Mountain when we had that nine feet of snow in six weeks and they got stuck up there," he said.
"They are not miracle machines but they are a more aggressive terrain unit which will be good up there with the bogs and the trails."
With the deadline extended for $80 early bird trail passes until Dec.15, Mr. O'Keefe urged snowmobilers to get out and buy passes because they in turn will dictate how many hours the groomer will be able to operate.
Mr. O'Keefe said it cost about $100 an hour to run the groomer which means the more passes sold the better off snowmobilers would be this coming season and the better off they will be in the back pocket.
Government has the final say on just how much the regular season passes will cost but the NLSF, based on their annual financial audit by Keith Penney and Associates, has requested regular passes be increased to $150 come Dec. 16.
"I don't think we'll get that, it could be $120 it could $110 it could be $100 but as soon as government gives an answer we'll let people know," he said.
Considering 70 per cent of the NLSF ticket sales traditionally coming in the early bird offer period, Mr. O'Keefe said he hoped people wouldn't "sit on the fence" and wait as they had done in previous years.
"All the money from the trails passes goes into a pool but with winter lasting longer up around St. Anthony than say down in St. John's there will be room to move if it is decided that there needs more grooming up there," he said.
"But again, it all depends on the number of trail passes sold. The more sold the better it will be for everyone.
"Each club will be budgeted a certain number of hours and they in turn will use their own judgment to decide when and where the grooming will take place. Those clubs like the Northern Drifters are our eyes and ears on the ground so to speak so it's best if they decide on the grooming."
Mr. O'Keefe said the number of hours had yet to be decided.