With winter storms powering through all parts of Wisconsin ushering in snow and cold, DNR conservation wardens and recreational staffers are asking all of you snowmobile enthusiasts to prep your sleds now but please hold off hitting the trails until local authorities give you the green flag.

Cathy Burrow, the DNR snowmobile trails grant manager, says ultimately the decision to open the trails is done at the local level where officials and local clubs care for the trails.

“While most landowner agreements state that trails can open by December 1,” Burrow says, “snow, standing crops, trail inspections and weather conditions can dictate the actual opening date. And that is announced by county officials.”

Conservation Warden Todd Schaller, chief of the Bureau of Law Enforcement’s Recreational Safety Program, says sometimes over-anxious snowmobilers can sometimes create problems by using the trails before they have been officially opened.

“In addition to being irresponsible, unsafe and illegal; it greatly threatens the landowner agreements that the club members have worked so hard to obtain and has resulted in closing large portions of trails throughout the state,” Schaller says.

Snowmobile trail information such as conditions and openings can be found through county foresters, park and recreation officials, local snowmobile clubs, local chambers of commerce and on the Snow Conditions Report on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism web site,” Schaller says.

Wisconsin ranks among the top states in providing snowmobile trails, Burrow says. The DNR provides $5.8 million in grants to maintain more than 18,700 miles of trails in the state.

Schaller says the DNR urges snowmobiles to stay on the trail and ride responsibly. Here are among the top things Schaller says snowmobilers can do now to prep for a fun, safe season:

  • Make sure your registration or non-resident trail passes are valid before you ride.
  • All riders at least age 12 and born on or after January 1, 1985, are required to have a valid snowmobile safety certificate.
  • Practice “Zero Alcohol,”which is a personal choice not to drink alcohol until you’re done riding for the day.
  • Review the snowmobile regulation pamphlet so you know the laws.

Lastly, the wardens wish all snowmobilers to have a lot of fun this season and stay safe out there!

All the information and details mentioned above can be found at the DNR web site, dnr.wi.gov, search the keyword, “snowmobile.”

Logo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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