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Jim Duke,snowmobile,planning

When a Plan Comes Together….Or Not!

Everybody loves it when the plan they were promoting comes to fruition, but frustration is a major contributor to those who had some great suggestions that may have fallen on deaf ears or may have just been considered not a viable proposal for the program. Many times I have witnessed this situation and many times I may have sided with one or the other in the selection process, depending on what the proposal might have entailed, and what the cost to the program might be. Either way, I know I will have those who will stand with me, and those who will be adamantly opposed to any suggestion I may support… that’s the way we make positive things happen and conversely, the way we prevent things that may be damaging to the program from being implemented.

Although I’m no longer an active member on the board of directors for the state association, many of the legislative and agency contacts I’ve become acquainted with during the several years when I was, have sought out my opinion before making a commitment to proposals brought forth for their consideration. Perhaps that’s their way of doing research, or perhaps it’s just a reason for reaching out for a friendly conversation with an old friend, and perhaps considered someone who will offer straight answers without any motive.

It’s been said many times over (and proven to be true) that most positive actions are formulated and delivered, not in formal meetings, but rather in non-orchestrated social settings. Some of the most important issues that seem to plague the sport of snowmobiling have been made by individuals sitting in offices, rather than by those who have direct (boots on the ground) knowledge of what is needed and what will actually benefit the program. With this in mind, by getting those individuals who make the decisions out of their offices and onto the snowmobile trails, we can not only tell them what’s needed, but show them as well.

Jim Duke,snowmobile,planning

On more than one occasion, plans for a snowmobile outing have been made and although some never get past the planning stage, there have been times when all parties were able to get free and enjoyed a day or two out on the trails. State associations can usually get snowmobile friendly lawmakers out by setting up a Legislative Day event and take them on a show & tell ride. Same scenario, national organizations work with those who set policy and regulate our federal lands, to get them out of their comfort zones and on a snowmobile. Sometimes that’s the only way to generate common ground decisions and develop long-standing partnerships.

In the not too distant past, with the agreement we would neither talk politics or make it public that we were planning to be out and about, destinations unknown, we met at an undisclosed location just west of Negaunee, unloaded snowmobiles, and after a brief lunch at a nearby café, we headed out for an enjoyable day of playing in the snow. Without thought of where we should go or a worry about the time, we had a wonderful adventure. We eventually ended up in Big Bay, got fuel, soft drinks, and some snacks, then were off again to seek out another less visited location.

Without any plan at all in mind, we ventured west along a logging route for a mile or two, jumping an unfrozen water spot and eventually making our way out to the Triple A trail. As luck would have it, we found ourselves near Mt. Arvon, so by mutual agreement we left the main trail and visited what is reportedly Michigan’s highest point. We didn’t spend much time there due to the lateness of the day, and once back on the trail we made our way into L’Anse, found a quiet restaurant for dinner, and afterwards we fueled up the sleds again for the run back to where we had begun the adventure. We did make one more stop along the route near Michigamme at the Mt. Shasta restaurant for a warmup and a cup of hot chocolate.

On this particular outing, per agreement not to reveal my companions identity, suffice to say this person held a political position in the federal legislature, so it was always quite a treat when we were able to find time to just socialize and enjoy each other’s company, and although we rarely agreed on anything political, we just didn’t discuss such issues during these outings. We did, however, discuss plenty of snowmobiling concerns.

We loaded the sleds and said our goodbyes with the understanding that it may be quite a while before we can do anything like this again, but we would certainly try to make it happen. Sometimes, just winging it is better than making a plan and trying to stick to it, and this was definitely one of those times.

When this acquaintance returned to the private sector, having elected not to seek another term, he proclaimed no further desire to participate in politics, either locally or at the state or national levels. But the fact that he enjoys motorized recreation, specifically snowmobiling, he has made it clear that he is willing to go to bat for us, using whatever clout he may still possess. The one thing we still agree on however, is that whenever we get together, we can reminisce about our snowmobiling escapades, but we don’t discuss politics.

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