Sno-Eagles Adapt to Changing Trail Conditions
Club Announces Purchase of ARGO Amphibious Utility Vehicle
To ensure snowmobiling remains a viable Northwoods activity for years to come, the Sno-Eagles snowmobile club has taken steps to adapt to flooded conditions when preparing trails for the season.
At the November Sno-Eagles snowmobile club board of directors meeting, Trail Boss Brian Scheid presented options for maintaining swamp, lowland, marsh, river and lake access trails. The topic of discussion was spurred by increased water levels in Northern Wisconsin over the past several years. After viewing swamp areas via drone and measuring water depth, there was great concern that more than 40 percent of the Sno-Eagles trail system is under water or considered swamp.
Scheid questioned how the club could maintain and inspect the entire trail system without proper equipment and how club members could get into the swamps to sign, maintain and groom the trails. Trucks and groomers have been stuck in swamps for many clubs because of poor timing, overly heavy equipment or risky decisions. To eliminate the cost of removing equipment from swamps there are two options: Wait until the ground is frozen or find a utility vehicle that can go in and out of the swamp.
The number one concern of the Sno-Eagles club is the safety of volunteers who maintain the trails. Scheid evaluated several utility track vehicles and determined the Amphibious ARGO would best meet the club’s needs. This unit, he said, has dual tracks that can cut through the swamp and also pull a smaller grooming drag.
After a second presentation, the board of directors voted at its December meeting to purchase the ARGO using monies in the general fund rather than the funds saved specially for groomer replacement.
The ARGO was delivered from R&R Motorsports in Hazelhurst, Wisconsin and groomer operators began packing trails and breaking ice in the swamps. Breaking the ice allows warm water to flow around the ice chunks and refreeze from the top assisted from the cold air. Once a larger snowfall arrives snow will be packed, removing the insulation. By doing this the swamps will be able to freeze quicker, open sooner and become safer for snowmobilers and larger grooming equipment.
Scheid said the ARGO has performed above and beyond club expectations. In the future the ARGO will get a small drag and be able to groom wetlands and club trails more efficiently.
The Sno-Eagles have the first ARGO in use for maintaining snowmobile trails in Vilas County and plan to make the unit available to local first responders for rescue year ’round.