Snowmobile federation digs into savings for $100K in trail repairs after heavy rain

It takes a lot of work to maintain the Newfoundland & Labrador Snowmobile Federation's more than 3,500 kilometres of trails, but the federation had to take on more than they were expecting this fall. 

"Going into the season, we thought we were very well off and had all of our trails up to scratch … but Mother Nature had a different idea," said general manager Tony Sheppard.

Sheppard said a significant rainfall caused about $100,000 of damage to trail infrastructure, spanning from Hughes Brook to Woody Point. 

He said bridges in Goose Arm Brook and Northeast Branch, as well as a number of culverts, were damaged or completely destroyed.

"Northeast Branch was almost a total loss, so we had to repair that whole bridge. That was a 32-foot steel bridge," said Sheppard.

"There was another area, which we call locally Boil Up Brook, where there [were] two six-foot culverts, and they were totally washed away. Actually, we can't even find the six-foot culverts."

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Sheppard said the bridges have since been repaired and the culverts replaced. He said the federation had been saving money in recent years for "a rainy day" — literally, as it turns out — so operations won't be affected this season and trail pass fees won't have to increase.

He said the damage on the trails was comparable to the damage done during the heavy flooding in January 2018, with the damage occurring in many of the same areas on the trails. 

Sheppard hopes the snowmobile federation will be lucky and avoid further damage, upgrading some infrastructure to better handle heavy rains.

"We're hoping it's going to be a long way away before it happens again, but we've also done some mitigation," he said.

"The Northeast Branch bridge is now actually twice as long and the opening is twice as wide as it was before, so the volume of water going through there should not affect our new bridge."

The trails are looking very good in most areas. - Tony Sheppard

Much of the most recent damage is contained to a few areas, Sheppard said, and volunteers are working hard on the routine maintenance to get things up and running for when the snow flies.

"The trails are looking very good in most areas," he said.

"Most of our clubs are working very diligently to get prepared for the season."

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