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Snowmobile safety certification courses

November 30, 2011
By RICHARD GAST , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County is pleased to offer an Extension-sponsored snowmobile safety certification courses to be held at the Tupper Lake Rod and Gun Club on Saturday, Dec. 10 and at the Malone Campus of North Country Community College on Jan. 7.

Both classes run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Class sizes are limited and registration is on a first come first serve basis. For more information or to sign a child up for one of these courses, please contact Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County at 518-483-7403.

The primary objectives of any snowmobile safety course are to decrease the potential for snowmobile accidents, injuries and fatalities, and to reduce the potential for conflict between snowmobilers and landowners, and snowmobilers and other trail system and resource users. By sponsoring New York State recognized youth snowmobile safety courses, which emphasize safe and responsible snowmobile operation, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County is taking an active role in assuring that children in the region are given the opportunity to safely enjoy this exciting winter sport.

In order to legally operate a snowmobile on public access snowmobile trails without adult or other supervision, snowmobilers ages 10 through 17 must complete a State recognized safety training course. Upon successful completion of the course, a safety certificate is issued by the Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Youths 10 years old or younger, or under 14 years of age who do not hold a safety certificate, may operate a snowmobile only on lands owned or leased by a parent or guardian. Upon completion of a New York State recognized snowmobile safety training course, however, youth ages 10 through 13 may operate a snowmobile on public access snowmobile trails, but only when accompanied by someone who is 18 years old or older. Youth ages 14 through 17 who complete a New York State recognized snowmobile safety training course may operate a snowmobile on public access trails without supervision.

Almost all snowsledders rely on public access snowmobile trail systems, like the ones here in northern New York, for their riding enjoyment. Many of the people using our trail systems, including some of you, will be operating a snowmobile this season for the first time. Before hitting the trail, it is imperative that you acquire all of the skills needed to safely operate your snowmobile. You must fully appreciate your responsibilities as a snowmobiler and behave accordingly. You must be willing to help foster proper attitudes toward snowmobiling, public trail systems, and the environment, and have at least a basic understanding of the mechanical functioning of your sled. You must also understand and obey all of the laws governing snowmobiling; not just the written laws that carry penalties for non-compliance, but the universally accepted guidelines, as well.

Last, but certainly not least, you must recognize the value of and become familiar with fundamental winter survival skills. One of the reasons that snowmobiling has become so popular is that it takes you into such remarkably beautiful environments. But those environments can also be frighteningly unforgiving, especially when you are not properly prepared. And whether you are a beginner or an old hand, things can go wrong. Even the most experienced snowmobilers occasionally make mistakes.

Almost all snowmobilers consider snowmobiling to be an extremely popular, first-rate family sport. According to the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA), more than 10 million dedicated North American snowmobilers pump tens of millions of dollars into local economies in the United States and Canada annually through purchases of equipment, fuel, food, accommodations and retail shopping. ISMA also maintains that additional economic benefits include 90,000 North American jobs and millions of dollars in local and state and provincial sales and gas tax revenues.

According to a survey conducted by New York State (the most recent survey available), the economic impact of snowmobiling in New York was $875 million in 2003. That figure represents an 84 percent increase over a similar economic impact analysis conducted five years earlier, in 1998, by the New York State Snowmobile Association in cooperation with SUNY Potsdam. Based on that information, it seems reasonable to believe that the current annual economic impact of snowmobiling on local economies in New York state is easily more than $1 billion.

The many miles of trails that cross northern New York make it one of the best snowmobiling sport destinations in the east, maybe even in the entire United States; allowing local and visiting snowmobilers to recognize, appreciate and respect the unequalled and unspoiled beauty of the Adirondack Mountains and the Champlain and St. Lawrence Valleys while savoring the adventure, exhilaration and freedom of the open trail. If we all agree to adhere to a few basic guiding principles, snowmobiling can be a safe sport that everyone can recognize the value of and enjoy.



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