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It’s been another odd start to the Western New York winter. A glance out the window is enough to tell you: we just don’t have any snow. And while walkers, bikers and golfers might like it, another group of outdoor enthusiasts is praying for a blizzard.

Snowmobilers need a solid base of packed-down, partially melted snow – plus an ideal several inches of cold, fluffy accumulation – in order to truly enjoy their sport. But Kevin Fisher, standing on the grass in Oakfield Sunday, said that's just a dream.

"No snow whatsoever, so far this winter," said the president of the Genesee Sno-Packers snowmobile club, which covers the western half of Genesee County. "We did just have a trail blessing though, so next week there's going to be feet of snow!" he said.

Fisher's club held their annual ride-in pancake breakfast Sunday, but with temperatures in the mid-40's, the visitors came in cars and trucks instead. That meant a lot of left-over pancakes and sausages.

The breakfast is a fundraiser, so low attendance hurts the Sno-Packers. But Fisher says there's a bigger problem.

"Registrations are down fifty-percent right now," he said. "Unless we get some snow soon and people start registering their snowmobiles, it'll have a big bearing on the trail grant-funding that we get back from the state." That amount is directly-correlated to how many people register their snowmobiles.

There's also the economic impact: the Sno-Packers enjoy sponsorship from a number of local bars, restaurants and stop-offs along the trail. Without snow, those businesses see less dividend from the sponsorship.

"We hope that our members do patronize our sponsors, but definitely there's a major impact on the entire economy: no gas being sold, no parts being sold, no traveling," Fisher said. "Just the tax revenue lost from all that is substantial."

Fisher says he's not too worried yet. Early 2011 was very similar, according to his recollection, and then Western New York got a major storm on Martin Luther King Day, salvaging the snowmobile season through February.

"Still some hope...there's plenty of hope yet," he says.


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