As of this past Tuesday evening the local snowmobile trails are open, and we can begin to enjoy the miles of beautiful trails throughout out county.
While we may see some increasing temperatures this week, I am sure there is much more winter in store for us, which will allow us more time to enjoy the outdoor activities that come with our winter wonderland.
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 these trails 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 meeting.
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 those areas not groomed.
Also, leaving the trail poses greater risks to you and your equipment, 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.
Also, if traveling across frozen lakes or rivers, be extremely cautious. While inland lakes may be a bit more consistent, those ice-covered rivers do maintain a current beneath the ice, which can result in varying thicknesses and even areas of open water that may be not easily visible when on a moving snowmobile.
Even if merely walking across a 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!
Finally, 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 due to intoxicated operation of a snowmobile.
If you would like more information on snowmobile safety, please visit www.Snowmobile-Ed.com/Wisconsin.
Matt Joski is Kewaunee County Sheriff.