The state senate has passed legislation cosponsored by Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I-Oneonta) to restore $1 million in funding to the state’s snowmobile trail fund that was swiped by the state Division of the Budget to pay the state’s bills in March. Senate bill 8144 was approved unanimously by the senate.
"Like many snowmobilers, I was outraged and angry that the state’s bureaucrats grabbed money from the trail fund in March," Seward said. "It’s a black eye for the state -- it seems no dedicated fund is safe from Albany’s bureaucrats when they need a few dollars."
The bill also requires the commissioner of parks, recreation and historic preservation to submit a detailed report to the legislature accounting for all funds to be disbursed from the trail fund each fiscal year. It is sponsored in the assembly by Assemblywoman Destito and is currently in the Assembly Tourism Committee.
Seward noted that snowmobiling generates over $875 million in economic activity for New York State.
"Many local businesses in my 51st senatorial district and across upstate New York rely heavily on snowmobiling-related tourism to make it through the winter season. I am seriously concerned that the raid on the trail fund, if not restored by this legislation, will hinder the ability to adequately maintain the state trail system, force clubs out of business and jeopardize the upstate winter economy in 2009," Seward said. "That’s why we need to restore the money."
Seward has been a longtime supporter of the snowmobile industry in New York. In 2005, he was a co-sponsor of enacted legislation that created the ‘Snowmobile Rights and Responsibilities Act’ to promote new safety and trail maintenance guidelines. The law was designed to increase club membership and thus increase participation in trail maintenance. Seward also is co-sponsor of legislation (S.7500) that would establish a non-trail snowmobile registration for snowmobiles that would be used solely for the purpose of gaining access to hunting and fishing areas. Seward has also asked the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) to revisit its decision to cap the mileage of the state's snowmobile trails.