Medina, MN - Trail grooming and winter utility work at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum will be accomplished in a more efficient and environmentally friendly manner with the new four-stroke utility snowmobile donated recently by Polaris.
The low-emission FS IQ WideTrak utility snowmobile will allow the arboretum staff to groom cross-country ski trails and snowshoe trails and complete winter chores such as maintaining fences erected to keep deer from feeding on arboretum trees.
"We are thrilled with this donation by Polaris and thankful to have a machine that's much more efficient and really fits with our `Green at Heart' initiative," said Professor and Interim Arboretum Director Mary Meyer. "We had no budget for the purchase of this machine, so we are very grateful to Polaris for this wonderful donation."
Polaris CEO Scott Wine said the company welcomed the opportunity to support one of Minnesota's most popular attractions. "At Polaris, we're all outdoors lovers and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is one of the most beautiful, relaxing and educational sites of its kind in the country," he said. "Our 4-stroke FS IQ WideTrak is ideal for the arboretum's needs and its sustainability initiative, and we are pleased to support them with this contribution."
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, which is part of the University of Minnesota, is the largest public garden in the Upper Midwest and a premier northern arboretum.
Located in the Minneapolis suburb of Chanhassen, the arboretum features more than 1,000 acres of gardens, model landscapes and natural areas such as woodlands, wetlands and prairie, as well as extensive collections of northern-hardy plants.
In warm weather, the arboretum grounds feature over 12 miles of paths and trails as well as a scenic Three-Mile Drive. In winter, there are 9 miles of cross-country ski trails and 3.5 miles of snowshoe trails. These trails, especially the cross-country trails, have previously been groomed using an old, unreliable V-8-powered machine that taxes both the environment and arboretum mechanics' repair skills.
"We had been grooming with a 1966 machine called the Super Imp that's very inefficient and we were constantly repairing it," Meyer said. "A mechanic worked on it regularly all winter and parts were nearly impossible to find. We were thrilled when Polaris offered to donate a snowmobile."
She said the FS IQ WideTrak will allow more frequent grooming of the cross-country ski trails, as well as expanded initial grooming of the snowshoe trails, some of which run in remote areas the old machine couldn't access.
"Since the Polaris snowmobile is so much lighter than the other machine, we'll be able to groom more often," she said. "The other machine was so heavy, you didn't want to groom too often because the tracks would actually dig into the ground. Our cross-country ski trails are heavily used, especially in light of recent snowfalls and were in dire need of a new grooming machine."
Since learning of the Polaris donation, the arboretum staff has been looking forward to taking delivery of the FS IQ WideTrak, which has a clean, powerful, quiet and efficient four-stroke engine. It also has electric start, reverse, Hi and Low forward ranges, underseat storage, a tow hitch, heated glove box, heated handgrips and thumb warmer, mirrors, a tall and protective windshield and a wide track that delivers excellent flotation and traction.
More information about the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is available at www.arboretum.umn.edu.