DNR encourages safe snowmobile riding on the trials

KEWEENAW PENINSULA — Below normal temperatures may be keeping snowmobile riders indoors during the current state of emergency, however in the next couple of days, temperatures are expected to rise into the double digits.

As many head back out on the trails, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is reminding riders to abide by a few guidelines.

While students at all public schools, and colleges in the Keweenaw have the day off, it would seem that it might be a good opportunity to do some snowmobiling, until you stop to consider why they have the day off.

Several are out on the trails braving the extreme cold, and sledding traffic is expected to return to normal towards the weekend and it’s important for riders to keep in mind some general policies.

There are sound rules for machines built after 1980 that they have to meet a certain standard.

The department has been monitoring trails in the Keweenaw and enforcing several regulations. Recent check points in Houghton and Ontonagon Counties yielded a few citations, and a couple of trips to jail for intoxicated riders, but the department is also focusing on loud sleds this year.

“With the snowmobile patrols we do, there’s going to be some stepped up enforcement of these loud exhaust complaints. That’s something we’re going to have to do to let folks know, especially those who come to the area from out of state and may not be familiar with the decibel rules,” John Pepin, Deputy Public Information Officer, Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

In an effort to maintain partnerships with land owners who allow their property to contribute to the area’s trail system the Michigan DNR offers sound level testing for riders at it’s Marquette Field Office. And that’s something the department would like to see more riders participate in.

“Every year once in a while the conservation officers do offer a sound testing where riders can bring in their sleds and have them tested. Unfortunately not a lot of riders come in and do have their sled tested when we do hold those events,” said Pepin.

Riders simply bring their sled to the department and a decibel level is determined at open throttle. This will tell the rider if he or she is in compliance, or if maintenance is needed to bring the snow machine up to code.

That testing usually takes place between the last week of February and the first week of March. More information can be found at Michigan.gov/dnr.

“We’ve got over 6,000 miles on our trail system. It’s a fantastic system and we certainly don’t want to compromise that. We want people to get out and enjoy it and everybody can help to maintain this great sport,” Pepin said.