WOODFORD — The largest snowmobile club in the state turned 25 this winter and earned recognition from the General Assembly, which passed a legislative resolution congratulating the Woodford SnoBusters.
With arguably the best riding conditions in the state being the trails that stretch through the Green Mountain National Forest 2,300 feet above sea level in Woodford, the club has grown from a couple of dozen people in 1984 to thousands.
Betty Roark, who has been a SnoBuster from the beginning and is in charge of memberships, said the club has more than 2,600 members and has been as large as 5,000 members in 2001.
Roark said poor snow accumulation for a couple of years decreased that number after 2001, but in recent years membership has been on the rise again.
“Woodford probably has the greatest number of riders, more than any other place in Vermont … because of the accessibility from New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut,” Roark said. “It’s a snowbelt, we get snow when nobody else does.”
Roark said the majority of the club’s members come from surrounding states, and even some from the southern part of the country.
“Just like we go down there in the summer … they come up here in the winter to snowmobile,” Roark said.
The conditions have been the same over the years, but the riding conditions seem to improve each year, thanks to the work the SnoBusters put into the trails.
“Twenty-five years ago we didn’t have any trails. We went from no trails to quite an elite trail system that we groom,” Roark said.
In that first winter, trail grooming was done with snowmobiles and pipe drags before members pooled their money to buy a small track machine known as a Bombi.
Now, the club grooms more than 100 miles of trail, with a top-quality grooming fleet that consists of several Pisten Bullys and a high-end trail groomer.
Roark said over the years the popularity of the trails in Woodford has grown immensely, leading to overcrowding on many winter weekends.
As well as maintaining and grooming trails, the SnoBusters also sponsor a hot dog roast and the Very Special People Ride each winter to raise money for charities.
Rep. Bill Botzow, D-Pownal/Woodford, said he sponsored the legislative resolution congratulating the SnoBusters on its silver anniversary because of the service its volunteers have put in over the years to attract thousands of people to the area each winter.
“I was just impressed by the hard working, dedicated people who want to give their time so others can enjoy our forest,” Botzow said by phone Thursday. “(The SnoBusters) are a big piece of our local economy and they have made great progress in building buildings and maintaining the trails.”
Contact Dawson Raspuzzi at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reprinted with permission from The Bennington Banner, Sunday April 18, 2010