Information on how recreational opportunities benefit the Tug Hill region certainly brought smiles to the faces of business and community leaders.
Various governmental entities and private organizations commissioned the Center for Community Studies at Jefferson Community College in Watertown and consulting firm Camoin 310 in Saratoga Springs to conduct a survey earlier this year and analyze the responses. The survey collected data on what economic effect snowmobilers have when they come to the area.
The good news is that non-local snowmobile enthusiasts spend an average of $192 in Tug Hill per day during the season. With more than 18,000 non-local users coming to the region for more than 347,000 days a year, this results in $28.8 million in wages for 866 jobs and $81.6 million in sales attributed to snowmobile activity, according to Lewis County Department of Economic Development. Lewis County alone sees $445,000 in annual tax revenues from the snowmobile season.
“New York’s Tug Hill region’s expansive snowmobile trails contribute to the regional economy through visitor spending on lodging, food, entertainment, gas, equipment and other retail,” the LCED website reported. “Lewis County in partnership with Jefferson County Economic Development; the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce; Oneida County Tourism; Oswego County Community Development, Tourism and Planning; Operation Oswego County; the Tug Hill Commission; and several area snowmobile clubs contracted with the Center for Community Studies at Jefferson Community College and Camoin 310 to undertake an economic impact study of snowmobiling in the Tug Hill region. This study considers the economic impacts, in terms of jobs, wages, and sales, that would not occur but for the snowmobile activity. Fiscal benefits include the property tax, sales tax, and occupancy tax revenue that are generated from this activity. Throughout early 2021, a survey was conducted to evaluate the impact of snowmobile user spending on the Tug Hill region. The Center for Community Studies at Jefferson Community College developed this survey to gather information related to snowmobile users, including number of visits, spending habits, location of origin, and feedback on the trail network. In total, 2,416 surveys were completed.”
The survey identified 35,254 unique snowmobilers who use Tug Hill trails each year. About 52 percent of them are non-local users.
“The snowmobile industry has been steadily growing in the Tug Hill Region due to the hard work of our local snowmobile clubs, as well as the generosity of landowners who open their land to our expansive trail system,” Brittany Davis, executive director of LCED, said about the survey, according to information on the agency’s website. “Results from the economic impact study will allow the region to prioritize strategies to continue to support and expand the industry that continues to contribute so much to our local economy.”
This was an ambitious undertaking that yielded excellent results. It’s good that these government departments and recreational groups pooled their resources to have this survey done.
Davis is correct that the data from this study will be very helpful. It will give policymakers and businesses some valuable insights into how snowmobilers spend their time and money.
This will guide them in knowing how best to market Tug Hill during the snowmobile season. We commend all the partners in this project for recognizing the benefits of working together. We hope they use information wisely in planning for the area’s success in the near future.