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Otter Trail Riders Snowmobile Club gearing up for winter

Kevin Cederstrom

The Otter Trail Riders Snowmobile Club is preparing for a good snow season in the area and are looking for new members to get involved.

The snowmobile club, which formed in 1992, maintains a trail system that connects the communities of Bluffton, New York Mills, Perham, Ottertail, Dent, Richville and Deer Creek.

The Otter Trail Riders are conducting a membership drive this month in the hopes to attract interested snowmobilers to its membership meeting Dec. 28, 8 p.m., at the New York Mills V.F.W.

Anyone interested in being a part of the club is invited to the meeting. Lunch will be served and prize drawings given away.

The club meets the 4th Monday of every month at the NY Mills V.F.W. from October to March.

Otter Trail Riders currently has 105 members including business memberships. Cost to join the club is $40 for individual or family. Business membership is $70, which includes advertising in the state snowmobile association magazine.

Membership forms are available in NY Mills at Vaughn Auto & Marine; Ottertail Home Center; Winkels Carpet in Perham; and Bluffton Hardware.

Otter Trail Riders members Lynn Burmeister and Kevin Dreyer encourage people to get involved as the club welcomes new ideas to help maintain quality snowmobiling in East Otter Tail County.

"This is a great way to show support for the trail system," Dreyer said.

Otter Trail Riders maintains 142 miles of trails and is very active with youth education in the communities the club serves. According to club groomer Dennis Tigges, since 1992 there have been about 1,700 youth ages 11 and 12 who have completed snowmobile safety and awarded their certificates to ride. Instructors are all volunteers.

"Membership within the local snowmobile club is critical in having a successful trail system," club president Rob Hendrickson added. "The membership is all volunteer and responsible for the maintenance of the trail and promoting snowmobiling within the area."

The membership drive is important in maintaining a strong club which in turn is a big part of the communities the club serves.

"When you belong to the club you're showing support for your local community," said trail coordinator Paul Friedrich. "We really try to encourage local involvement."

Last year, the club put in 500 hours on the groomers and covered 4,327 miles maintaining trails.

"The snowmobile club is an important part of the local economy," Hendrickson said. "This past year, several local businesses reported the snowmobile industry was instrumental in keeping them alive. We have all chosen to live among thousands of beautiful acres. It is the generosity of many landowners that allow other snowmobilers to enjoy this land. Snowmobiling is a family-based activity that can be enjoyed by all age groups."

Avalanche awareness


On Dec. 18, the Otter Trail Riders will host an Avalanche Awareness, Avoidance and Rescue for Snowmobiling course in New York Mills. The class is taught by Mike Duffy, and expert on the subject from Colorado.

Cost of the class is $45 with all proceeds going to the instructor. Contact Dave Rogers at 385-2171 for more information.

The informative class talks about how to recognize and survive avalanches, as well as snow survival.