By Gari Voss
Collaboration may be the answer for those who love riding the trails and roads around Allegan County and across Michigan in all seasons of the year. The possible melding of two clubs would touch hundreds of riders and in the process involve students at the Allegan Tech Center.
Over the years, the Allegan County Snowmobile Club (ACSC) has established itself with landowners and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to create almost 100 miles of groomed trails around the county when there is snow. But what happens to the trails and club house when there is no snow?
The Allegan Off Road Vehicle (ORV) riders are just emerging now that townships and municipalities in Allegan County have opened miles of roads to vehicles of all sizes and shapes. The group has found the Allegan County Snowmobile Clubhouse to be an excellent meeting place, but they have begun establishing off-road trails.
At the state level, the Michigan Snowmobile and ORV Association, Inc. has paved the path of collaboration by demonstrating how the different recreational vehicles can complement each other. Hundreds of miles of trails have opened across the state and a variety of activities occur twelve month a year.
Conversations have begun within ACSC. Additional conversations have begun with ORV enthusiasts.
“It seemed like a natural joining considering people have been looking for club and trail riding opportunities. We could fold the ORV people into the snowmobile club and make it more of a Snowmobile ORV association,” shared Mark Vredeveld, a Snowmobile Club member.
The Allegan Snowmobile Club has about 35 members. Several of the long-time members continue to support the activities, but additional members are needed to assist in keeping trails groomed and the clubhouse repaired.
Even though the trails are groomed by ACSC, hundreds of non-member riders use the trails when the snow base is deep enough. Having additional trained groomers is important to the future of the club. Some of those trails cross private property, but other sections have been approved by the DNR and cross public land. It is these that may be repurposed during summer months.
The ORV riders are just establishing themselves, and some planned activities have no “home”. Most roads have been approved by the townships and cities except State roads such as M40, M89, M222, etc. Accessing trails across State lands will require conversations with the DNR.
Vredeveld explained, “If anyone goes to the MyACSC website, they will find that the ACSC membership is $20 for individuals and $30 for families. In addition, ACSC has sponsors who contribute $100 each year. The revenue assists in keeping the club going.”
Currently, the charter of ACSC is being modified by the Board to align more closely with the Michigan Snowmobile and ORV Association. If the clubs combine, the new association riders will be able to approach the DNR to determine what trails could be opened to ORVs during the summer.
“There are trails that are gated during the summer, so there may be a possibility to allow ORVs. This may provide ORVs more space that will keep them off equestrian and other trails designated for specific purposes,” Vredeveld added.
ACSC will review the amended charter during their April meeting when approval of the charter would be done by the entire membership rather than only the ACSC Board.
If the clubs combine, a new logo will be needed. Therefore, the Allegan Tech Center Graphic Art students were approached. Their task – create a logo that would highlight ACSC/ORV.
“Shane Kellum approached me several weeks ago to see if the graphic art students could design a logo,” explained graphic art instructor Valli Virgo-Caperton. “I have second-year students and some first-year students who are ahead of the curriculum. About five students jumped at the opportunity to meet the challenge and gain real-life experience.”
At this time, drafts of the graphics have been sent to the Snowmobile / ORV committee for review. The students will be taking the suggestions to make adjustments then will return the revised graphics to the committee for the next review.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for students to gain experience with a real-life task. They learn to take information, design, review then make revisions,” continued Virgo-Caperton. “The committee added a layer to the design process because the graphic will be placed on a variety of materials like T-shirts and stickers. This means that the logo requires solid colors with no gradients.”
Over the next couple of weeks, the students and committee members will share thoughts to find possible logos that can be presented with the amended charter at the April meeting.
Anyone interested in joining ACSC or interested in learning more about the possible combination of ACSC and the ORV Club is welcome to contact President Mark Evan at email@example.com. Saturday, April 15, 2023 from 3-7pm will be the ACSC Annual Meeting and Landowners Appreciation Dinner.