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January 10, 2011

Snowmobile Safety Lasts All Winter Long

SNOWMOBILE SAFETY WEEK - County Legislature Chairman Barry Leemann presents a proclamation for Snowmobile Safety Week to members of the Oswego County Snowmobile Association. From left are Bob and Carolyn Prockup, Kasoag Trailblazers; Legislature Chairman Leemann; Ed Montieth, president of the Oswego County Snowmobile Association; County Legislator Milferd Potter; Jeff Hopkinson, president of the Kasoag Trailblazers, and Peter Hopkinson, Kasoag Trailblazers.

OSWEGO COUNTY - Snowmobilers across the U.S. and Canada are participating in International Snowmobile Safety Week Jan. 10 through 16. In Oswego County, with the highest recorded snowfall east of the Rockies, safety on the trail is a priority all winter long.

The snowmobiling season often begins in December and extends until March, and members of the ten clubs that comprise the Oswego County Snowmobile Association take care of trails throughout the county.

"Maintaining more than 360 miles of groomed snowmobile trails across Oswego County's terrain is no small feat, and the members of the Oswego County Snowmobile Association take their responsibilities very seriously," said County Legislature Chairman Barry Leemann. "Volunteers sacrifice countless hours grooming the trails, posting signs, removing trees and branches, repairing storm damage, fixing bridges, and replacing culverts to keep them safe for riders."

The ten clubs include the Fulton Area Snow Travelers, Kasoag Trailblazers, Mexico Trail Riders, Pulaski-Boylston Snowmobile Club, Redfield Snowmobile and Recreation Club, Square Valley Trailblazers, Snow Owls of Cicero/Clay, Sterling Trail Tamers, Vanderbilt Snowmobile Club, and Winona Forest Recreation Association. Riders are encouraged to join a club in order to support trail grooming and maintenance activities. A free county trail map comes with each membership. Maps are also available for sale at many stops and locations along the trail.

Oswego County's trail system plays a vital role in the county's winter tourism economy, says Dave Turner, director of the County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning.

In 2009, nearly 10,000 snowmobiles were registered in the county. Visitors to the county registered more than 6,000, while another 3,600 were registered by Oswego County residents. Sleds need to be registered and insured to be ridden on trails. New York State law also requires operators between the ages of 10 and 17 to take a snowmobile safety course and receive a certificate of completion.

"Oswego County's legendary Lake Effect snowfall makes it an ideal destination for snowmobiling. It's estimated that snowmobilers contribute at least $40 million to the County's economy, spending money on gasoline, meals, lodging, equipment, and accessories. Our trails connect to the Tug Hill Plateau and Adirondacks to the east, Cayuga County to the west, and Onondaga County trails to the south," said Turner.

Legislature Chairman Leemann said the snowmobile association encourages safe and responsible snowmobile riding, including operating at safe speeds, watching for slower moving sleds and trail groomers, and avoiding alcohol to make their riding experience in Oswego County a safe and enjoyable experience.

For club information and trail conditions visit the Oswego County Snowmobile Association Web site at www.oswcsa.com. For accommodations, restaurants and visitor information, go to visitoswegocounty.com.

Tips for Safe Snowmobiling ...

  1. Never consume alcohol or drugs before or during snowmobiling.
  2. Become familiar with the snowmobile you ride.
  3. Operate at safe and reasonable speeds.
  4. Stay on trails and areas where snowmobiling is permitted.
  5. Avoid travel on unfamiliar bodies of water.
  6. Use extra caution at night.
  7. Keep your snowmobile properly maintained.
  8. Become familiar with the terrain you travel on.
  9. Listen to the weather forecast before you leave.
  10. Always wear a helmet and proper clothing.
  11. Never ride alone. Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
  12. Carry emergency supplies and learn survival skills.

(Source: International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association.)

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