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Group that maintains Duluth snowmobile trails in need of donations for new grooming machine

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DULUTH, MN -- A volunteer group that grooms the snowmobile trails in Duluth is in need of some financial help.

The Duluth Drift Toppers Snowmobile Club is a group of volunteers that maintains nearly 18 miles of trails in the area, but their only grooming machine is currently out of commission.

Club members say fixing it - or buying a new one - is quite costly.

The motor on the Duluth Drift Toppers 30-year-old grooming machine has failed, in addition to several other mechanical problems - keeping them off the trails.

"We need to try to save money for a new machine, but every time we try to save money, this machine goes down, and we need it to service the trails. So it's a losing battle at times," said Drift Toppers president, Rob Waksdahl.

RJ's Sport and Cycle in Hermantown offered to store the machine in their warehouse, but repairs are being done by volunteer club members with their own tools and their own time.

"Everybody kinda pitches in together. I don't think people realize how much work goes into doing trails, keeping them good for the public. Everyone loves riding on great trails, but they don't just happen," said club member Jeff Barbee.

Drift Toppers president Rob Waksdahl says the repair cost is $4,000 to $5,000. A new or replacement groomer would be anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000.

They're looking to raise $30,000 to $50,000 to match a possible grant proposal.

"We're hoping to have a grant application ready within the next several months, and we're hoping that application can be accepted in the fall. At the point that we receive the grant, we'll have to have matching funds in order to receive the grant dollars," Waksdahl said.

Drift Toppers lead mechanic, Jeff Barbee, says the Duluth trails will still be maintained while their machine is out of commission.

Several other volunteer grooming clubs in the Northland are stepping up to help out.

"It puts a big burden on joining clubs because they have to pick up our slack. It turns into 10, 12 hour nights," Barbee said. "Hopefully we get this resolved quickly, and get back to grooming."

Several local businesses and organizations have stepped up to help with fundraising efforts, in addition to public donations.

If you're interested in donating towards the new grooming machine, click HERE.

Jenna Wells

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