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U.S. Forest Service encourages snowmobile travelers to exercise caution

Finger Lakes National Forest (FLNF) officials are recommending that snowmobilers exercise caution when operating on National Forest, and all lands, in New York this winter. Snowmobile enthusiasts are being reminded to heed to all gates and signage, to stay on marked trails and adhere to COVID-19 precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with local and state health and safety guidance.  

Weather permitting, snowmobile use is allowed on designated trails within the FLNF beginning on Thursday, December 16, 2021, and ending on Tuesday, March 15, 2022. “We are concerned about user safety. Monitoring trail conditions and providing visitor information will occur throughout the Forest,” said Jodie Vanselow, District Ranger for the FLNF. The FLNF will continue to work closely with State and local law enforcement agencies as well as the Twin Lakes Snowmobile Association (TLSA) to make sure users of the trail system are respectful, responsible, law abiding, and safe. 

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The FLNF and TLSA cooperate to maintain more than 12 miles of National Forest system trails that are part of the larger statewide snowmobile network. TLSA is one of several snowmobile associations in the United States that has a cooperative partnership agreement with the U.S. Forest Service. “All of these trails allow mixed uses, so people are snowshoeing, hiking and cross-country skiing as well as using snowmobiles. Snowmobilers should travel responsibly and yield to other users,” said Vanselow. Riders should travel at a reasonable and prudent speed for the existing conditions. 

The Forest Service is also warning all snow travelers of the dangers in riding, hiking and skiing on frozen water bodies. Trail users are encouraged to be mindful of fallen trees and other hazards they may encounter. Operators must maintain control of their snowmobile while riding; keep to the right at all times and stay on designated trails only. All snowmobiles must be legally registered and have liability insurance. The New York Statewide snowmobile trail system operates on a sled registration system. There is no trail pass required, but all New York State residents and non-residents must register their sleds in New York to ride in New York. Helmet use is also required. Officials also encourage winter trail users to pack a flashlight, cell phone, food and extra warm clothing in case of an emergency.