READY FOR A GOOD RUN — Riders got set to ride the trails, which thousands of Western New Yorkers will do, this season. Journal file photo.
SPRINGVILLE — The snowmobiling season is underway in Western New York, as one of the most popular sports in the area opened its trails on Dec. 18. The season was off to a snowy start, as more than 3 feet of snow fell in some locations, but the recent warm-up has put a slight damper on the early-season snowfall.
Snowmobile enthusiasts in the area must take the proper safety precautions, before hitting the trails this winter season, to ensure that they have safe travels, according to a local club president.
“One of the most important things for riders is to make sure that they are riding on marked trails, and that the trails are open,” said Southern Tier Snow Drifters Club President Ross Moritz.
“Every club has a website that is updated daily; it will give information on whether or not trails are open, in certain areas. They provide trail conditions and other safety tips, to help riders out, before they hit the trails.”
Even though the snowmobiling season officially opened on Dec. 18, there must be certain conditions, in order for trails to be open continuously.
There must be at least 6 inches of snow and the ground must be frozen, to ride any trails in Erie County. Riders must always check one of those sites before hitting the trails, to make sure conditions are safe for riding, several riders noted.
“We encourage riders to do their research, before they go out and ride. It’s very important to ensure their safety,” said Holland Snorascals Snowmobile Club President Tim Beechler.
“Too many times people just assume, because the trails open on Dec. 18, that they’re good to go riding, and that’s not the case, all the time. The trails have to be safe for riding and that’s up to each club to determine. We have to get the trails marked and set for riding, before we can open them to the public, so its important that people are aware,” Beechler explained.
“All of the clubs have websites that are up-to-date, and many clubs now have Facebook pages, as well.”
Each year, thousands of riders give snowmobiling a try, in Western New York. New York state offers training courses for snowmobilers older than 10 years. The courses provide fundamental information for all snowmobilers who plan to hit the trails.
Children between the ages of 14 and 17 years old can operate snowmobiles on public trails, as long as they have completed the proper training courses required by New York state. Children between the ages of 10 and 13 may only operate a snowmobile on land that is owned or leased by their parent or guardian.
“Safety courses are offered every year, and they are required for first-time riders and recommended for all riders,” said Moritz. “The courses are the best way to ensure complete safety, when riding and operating a snowmobile. There are a variety of different courses that are offered, to help assist riders of all types.”
Snowmobiling is not only a recreational sport, but has a large impact on the New York state economy.
In a 2012 study done by the State University of New York at Potsdam Institute for Applied Research, it was determined that snowmobiling brings in an economic impact of $868 million, annually. The New York State Snowmobile Association sponsored the research.
“It’s pretty amazing, when you hear the statistics,” said Moritz. “To bring in over $850 million annually is great for the area. Western New York is one of the most involved areas, throughout the state. Particularly Erie County, which has about 130,000 snowmobile registrations, each year. Erie County also has more registrations than any other county in New York state. So, you can definitely see that snowmobiling is a big part of the community, around here.”
All of the clubs throughout Erie County have their own websites, which can be found at www.wnysnowtrails.com
, the home of The Federation of Erie County Snowmobile Clubs.
Visit any of the websites for more information regarding trail conditions and safety tips about the upcoming season.