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Snowmobiling: Follow the rules of the trail

Wondering if your area snowmobile trails are open? Check with the county. (File photo)

Check with county as to when trails are to open

With winter storms to occur over the next few months, state recreational specialists are asking snowmobilers to prep their sleds for the season but to hold off on hitting the trails until local authorities provide the green flag.

In St. Croix County the snowmobile trail hotline number to call to check if trails are open is 715-772-6824.

Ultimately, the decision to open trails is made at the local level. While most landowner agreements state that trails can open by Dec. 1, snow, standing crops, trail inspections and weather conditions can dictate the actual opening date, which is announced by county officials.

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 across the state.

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.

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

The DNR urges snowmobiles to stay on the trail and ride responsibly. Here are among the top things 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.

For more information, call Conservation Warden Paul Sickman at 715-684-2914, ext. 120. Have a safe and enjoyable snowmobiling season.