MUNISING, Mich. (WJMN) — Over $80,000 have been raised by Friends of Valley Spur to replace two aging jeeps that have long been used to maintain the 27 miles of cross country skiing trails near Munising. The organization says the machines barely limped through last season.
Volunteers say last winter wreaked havoc on the 1996 and 1999 Jeep Cherokees due to the warm temperatures and wet snow, a trend which may continue this year. “Up to this point, income generated from memberships, daily passes and sponsorships from area businesses and clubs have been our only funds,” said organizers in their post about the fundraiser. “The ski passes barely cover the cost of paying for our jeeps, snowmobiles, grooming, fuel and repair bills… Without updating our equipment, maintaining grooming and improving the quality of our trails is in jeopardy.”
To replace the Jeeps, Friends of Valley Spur is working to buy a small farm tractor equipped with tracks and the proper grooming attachment. They say the new tractor would also lengthen the ski season since it can lay a more consistent track. The cost of such a machine is expected to be around $215,000.
Volunteers have looked into grants, but have only found one from the USDA that would provide $10,000-$50,000 next spring if the application is approved.
To date, the community has raised over $88,000 for the tractor—$20,000 of which came from an anonymous donor. The Noquemanon Trail Network posted on Facebook about the fundraiser’s progress, saying, “Thanks to all that have contributed to new grooming equipment at Valley Spur! Volunteers with the Friends of Valley Spur work very hard to provide this tremendous winter resource for the Munising region and we are proud to be able to provide the non-profit umbrella to support their work.”
You can donate online or by mail. The original announcement of the fundraiser said it could be accomplished if 1,000 skiers donated $200, but noted Valley Spur only has 149 members, and collects 1,800 day passes a year. “That means there are a lot of skiers that travel to ski with us and probably a lot who do not contribute. We are asking you to please thoughtfully consider what skiing at Valley Spur means to you and how much you can donate.”
You can mail donations to Friends of Valley Spur at P.O Box 523, Munising, MI 49862 or donate online.