Belated snowmobile season kicks into high gear
A few weeks ago the ground was mostly bare, but recent heavy snowfall has officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources encouraging snowmobilers to slow down and put safety first as their belated snowmobiling season shifts into hig...
A few weeks ago the ground was mostly bare, but recent heavy snowfall has officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources encouraging snowmobilers to slow down and put safety first as their belated snowmobiling season shifts into high gear.
"Less than a month ago it seemed more like spring, but the past few weeks has provided ideal snow conditions across the state for snowmobiling," said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Enforcement Education Program coordinator. "Snowmobilers parked for most of the season may be in a big hurry to put some miles on their machine. That's where they may be likely to get into trouble."
There have been 12 snowmobile fatalities this winter in Minnesota. To prevent another fatality from happening, the DNR is urging snowmobilers to think about safety even before fueling up. Tops on the safe rider list should be a pledge to leave the alcohol alone until riding is done for the day, along with a resolve to ride defensively not aggressively especially at night, Hammer said.
"Drive safely and drive smart when operating a snowmobile," Hammer said. "Snowmobilers should always be aware of potential hazards and use good judgment."
Speed is also a common problem for snowmobilers. The maximum speed limit in Minnesota is 50 mph. If a person on snowmobile is traveling at 50 mph, the reaction time is three seconds. That means they will have traveled 220 feet before being able to apply the brakes; which is equal to two-thirds of a football field
According to DNR officials, riding snowmobiles can be an enjoyable form of outdoor recreation when people follow the rules of the road and trail:
E stay away from alcohol, be cautious when operating in a road right-of-way or on ice, and slow down especially at night
E display current snowmobile registration and state trail sticker
E stay off the roadway, shoulder, and slope of state and county highways
E operate snowmobiles in the same direction as highway traffic when riding one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise
E stay off the median of four-lane highways
E come to a complete stop and look both ways before crossing a public roadway
E cross public roadways at a 90-degree angle
E check local ordinances on when and where to ride.
To legally ride a snowmobile, people born after Dec. 31, 1976, need a valid snowmobile safety certificate or a driver's license (or identification card) with a valid snowmobile qualification indicator on it.
Temporary re-routes in NW Minnesota
The snowmobile trails in Beltrami Island State Forest and Lake of the Woods County are changing.
The Minnesota DNR and local club members have identified temporary routes using forest roads, unmaintained forest roads and management routes to be signed and groomed starting March 3 and continuing until the snow melts this year.
Logging is occurring in the forest and snowmobile riders are reminded to use caution on all plowed portions of the re-routes. The DNR is working with local clubs to permanently re-route the trails before the 2007-08 snowmobile season.
The temporary re-routes were made to address a recent decision by the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians to close approximately 10 miles of snowmobile trails in Beltrami Island State Forest and Lake of the Woods County.
For more information, contact the Red Lake Band Department of Natural Resources at (218) 679-3959.
"While we work through the re-routes over the next year, we are asking riders to stay off Red Lake tribal lands," said Mike Carroll, DNR northwest region director.