- Associated Press - Monday, January 27, 2014

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - Snowmobile enthusiasts say they support increasing Wyoming’s snowmobile-registration fee as a way to raise money to groom trails, but opponents say such legislation mostly would benefit people who live near groomed trails.

A bill prepared for introduction in the Legislature next month would raise the annual snowmobile-registration fee by $10. That would bring the annual cost to $35 for the following two years, when an increase of $5 increase would raise the cost to $40.

The four-week legislative session begins Feb. 10.

Wyoming State Snowmobile Association President Bert Miller said less grooming could deter people from planning snowmobile vacations in Wyoming. Snowmobiling generates $175 million in consumer spending in Wyoming each year, he said.

“Forty-nine percent of that basis is people coming to Wyoming from out of state to snowmobile our trail system. We must be doing something right. If they don’t come, we all lose money,” Miller said.

Others say the legislation mostly would benefit people who live near areas with groomed snowmobile trails.

The Big Horn Basin, Wind River Mountains, the Laramie Range and the Bridger-Teton National Forest are home to most of Wyoming’s groomed trails, said Rep. Allen Jaggi, R-Lyman, a member of the House Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee.

Jaggi previously opposed the bill when it was before the committee because his constituents in southwest Wyoming don’t have a lot of groomed trails.

“The people who ride on groomed trails will benefit, and the people who don’t will help pay for the people that do,” he said.

He also disliked the additional $5 increase after two years.

“Give them an inch, and they take a mile,” he told the Casper Star-Tribune (https://bit.ly/1bsWwcH).

A 10-cent-per-gallon increase in the state fuel tax last year has been generating more funding for grooming snowmobile trails, as well as helping to pay for road and highway improvements.

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Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, https://www.trib.com

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