Snowmobile safety tips, now that snow is on the ground in Kewaunee County
With the recent snowfall we received along with what is anticipated in the coming days, I think it is safe to say that we are ready to fully enjoy winter sports here in Kewaunee County.
Whether it is fat tire biking at Ryan Park or sliding down the hills at Winter Park, there is no shortage of opportunities to get outside and enjoy this winter wonderland. There may even be some snowmobile trail riding in our future if conditions continue to be snowy.
For this article I would like to focus on the snowmobile riding, just to get everyone thinking about the safety side of things.
First and foremost, I would like to thank the area snowmobile clubs for their tireless efforts to make the snowmobile routes a reality. In the past few years, the weather did not cooperate and we had very limited trail dates. It will be good to see their hard work pay off this year.
Also, big thanks to all the property owners who allow these trails to run across their properties. This is purely voluntary on their parts and we are grateful for their generosity.
While the enforcement of snowmobile regulations is typically handled by the Department of Natural Resources, there are some basic safety tips and guidelines that we in law enforcement would like you to observe as well.
When operating on public trails, please be aware that a portion of them are on the Ahnapee Trail system and that there are many users of that system other than snowmobilers. If you see someone walking or cross-country skiing, please slow down and use caution when approaching them.
There are also good portions of the public trail that utilize private lands. Please be respectful and stay on the trail, as a great deal of damage can be done by a snowmobile to areas that are not groomed.
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Also, leaving the trail poses greater risks to you and your snowmobile, as there are many hazards you may not see until it is too late.
When crossing roads, please follow the signage which has been posted and realize you have the same obligations on a snowmobile as you would in a vehicle.
It goes without saying that operating while intoxicated is just as dangerous on a snowmobile as it is in a vehicle. Unfortunately, we have seen a continued number of serious injury accidents as well as fatalities throughout the state because of intoxicated operation of a snowmobile.
If you would like more information on snowmobile safety, please visit Snowmobile-Ed.com/Wisconsin.
Also, if traveling across frozen lakes or rivers, be extremely cautious. While inland lakes may be a bit more consistent, ice-covered rivers do maintain a current beneath the frozen surfaces which can result in varying ice thickness and even areas of open water that may be not easily visible when on a moving snowmobile.
Even if merely walking across a seemingly frozen-over lake or river, be aware of the potential danger. We have had numerous incidents within our state of individuals either falling through the ice or getting stranded on shifting ice. No fish is worth that risk!
If you are curious about the status of our local trails, please call our Kewaunee County Parks and Recreation Hotline at 920-388-7199. This hotline provides information on local trails and is updated when conditions change.
Matt Joski is Kewaunee County Sheriff.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Snowmobile safety tips, now that snow is on the ground in Kewaunee County