GEARING UP FOR THE SNOWMOBILE SEASON
Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. Although astronomical winter doesn’t begin until December 21, local snowmobile trails technically open December 1 if there is sufficient snow cover and a solid base. The local snowmobile clubs have been busy making preparations on the 21,317+ miles of trails the clubs groom and maintain. When you add in the approximately 800 miles of state-owned and maintained trails to those maintained by the clubs, you have one of the finest interconnected snowmobile trail systems in the county. With the mild temperatures in November many areas are not yet frozen enough to support grooming equipment or snowmobiles.
Minnesota snowmobile clubs provide local trail maps which include information on amenities on their trail system. They also provide a corridor trail system that will allow snowmobilers to travel throughout the state without having to rely on the local trail maps every time they leave one trail system and enter another. This allows those who want to spend several days traveling the state by snowmobile to do so safely. The corridor trails are indicated on the statewide snowmobile trail maps which are available from Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Many of the state’s snowmobile trails run across privately owned property. “Private land owners help make the sport of snowmobiling possible by granting access to their land for snowmobile trails,” said Mark Kavanaugh, President of Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association. “All snowmobilers need to respect private land and obey snowmobile trail signs, practice safe and responsible snowmobiling and stay on the trail.”
Snowmobiling represents a large part of Minnesota’s winter tourism industry and the family sport is enjoyed by more than 450,000 men, women, and children in Minnesota. Emphasizing responsible riding practices, such as avoiding alcohol and operating at safe speeds, helps make Minnesota’s snowmobiling experience safe and enjoyable.
The Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association (MnUSA), the state’s largest snowmobiling organization, together with their 1,000 volunteer safety instructors, educated over 3400 students as to safe and responsible snowmobiling during the 2015-2016 riding season, devoting thousands of volunteer hours to promoting safe snowmobiling. In addition, 733 adults received snowmobile safety certification. Currently snowmobile safety classes are being held around the state for the 2016-2017 season. “We’re very pleased to see that Minnesota snowmobilers continue to make safety a priority on the trails by taking safety courses and practicing safe and responsible snowmobiling,” said Kavanaugh.
As of October 2002 Minnesota law requires any resident born after Dec. 31, 1976 to be safety certified in order to legally drive a snowmobile. MnUSA volunteer members receive instructor training from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and then offer classes throughout the state. An online course has been developed for safety training for both youth and adults. In addition, youth aged 12-15 are required to take a classroom review and riding performance test. Classroom training is also available for youth in lieu of using the online program. For more information on snowmobile safety classes, contact MnUSA at (763) 577-0185 or online at www.mnsnowmobiler.org or contact the DNR at 1-888-MINNDNR or online at www.dnr.state.mn.us.
Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association (MnUSA) was formed in 1978 to create a strong, unified voice for the state’s leading winter outdoor recreational activity. With a membership of nearly 40,000 individuals and 250 snowmobile clubs, MnUSA promotes safe and responsible recreational snowmobiling, while encouraging snowmobilers to keep the general welfare of both participants and non-participants top of mind. The association and its volunteers have worked extensively to help develop Minnesota’s snowmobile trail system – one of the most comprehensive systems in the country – and continue to plan and provide an array of snowmobile-related events and fundraisers.