“This is something that happens every year, » explains Chuck Boyer, club president. “Right now, none of the trails are available. »
The ground has to freeze before the groomers can hit the snowmobile trails. With the freezing and thawing of the last few weeks, it has been impossible for the groomers to get on the trails without damaging the ground.
Most of the snowmobile trails are on local farmers’ land. Groomers and snowmobiles passing through fields that are not yet frozen can damage the seeds already planted for the following year.
Also, many trails are in ditches. The snow covering the ditches often hides the water that is not yet frozen, causing problems for the groomers.
Boyer explained that it is the farmers who decide on the availability of trails on their land, and that these decisions must be respected by snowmobilers. Some farmers will agree to let snowmobilers pass before the ground is completely frozen, but others will decide to wait longer.
When snowmobilers don’t respect the farmers’ feelings on access savailability, some of those landholders may decide to stop allowing snowmobilers on their land altogether.
« It happens every year, » said Boyer.
This then causes problems for the snowmobile clubs, which have to find new trails or else their members ride on the pavement of county roads for several miles.
It is illegal for snowmobilers to ride on unavailable trails. Those who do so may be fined for trespassing on private property. Harsher fines may apply if snowmobilers damage farmers’ property.
« We hope everyone respects the rules and the wishes of the landowners, » said Boyer.
In a normal winter season snowmobile trails are available from mid-January, and the season is only six to seven weeks long.
“As soon as there’s snow, you want to go out and ride, » said Boyer. “At the club, we’re all volunteers and snowmobile fans too. »