Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2020

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Forest Resources

Advisor

Jessica Leahy

Second Committee Member

Mindy Crandall

Third Committee Member

Caroline Noblet

Abstract

Snowmobiling has been a popular winter pastime in Maine for decades. During the 2018-2019 snowmobiling season, nearly 85,000 snowmobiles were registered in Maine by both residents and non-resident snowmobile riders. While registrations show how many snowmobile owners are riding in Maine, an increasing part of the sport is now in rentals, which allows new or intermittent snowmobile riders to participate in the activity while avoiding the high price of modern machines. Another aspect of snowmobiling involves hiring Registered Maine Guides, by both renters and snowmobile owners, to lead tours. The Registered Maine Guide program standardizes the licensing procedure for all snowmobile guides who operate in Maine alongside these rental businesses. This research project examined two aspects of snowmobiling from different perspectives in order to elucidate the economic contribution of the sport, and the potential role of renters and guides in supporting the sport in the future. First, the research team used a system of mail surveys to collect data on how snowmobilers contribute to the Maine economy by measuring how snowmobilers spend money on snowmobile related purchases. This data was compiled to find the average spending per-snowmobile and subsequently multiplied by the number of registered snowmobiles in the state during the 2018-2019 season. Indirect and induced effects of this spending was calculated using Economic Impact Analysis for Planning (IMPLAN) software. The combination of the direct, indirect, and induced effects of the spending showed that snowmobiling contributed approximately $606 million to the Maine economy during the 2018-2019 season. Second, the research team used intercept surveying, and interviews with snowmobile renters and Maine Snowmobile Guides, to determine how the Maine Guide program effects renters’ perceptions of snowmobile guides in the state. This revealed a support for a standardized certification system for guides in Maine, but also showed a lack of knowledge of the program among renters, and a desire for increased efforts from the state to disseminate information about the program from Maine Guides interviewed.

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