Marco Nunziato and Lisa Stackhouse, of the Ontario Federation Of Snowmobile Clubs, hold up a map showing a portion of Ontario’s 30,000 kilometres of trails. Despite forecasts of snow, sledders are encouraged to be patient and visit http://www.ofsc.on.ca to learn about trail conditions before heading out.
Snowmobilers itching to get out on their machines will have to avoid scratching and be patient.
Although Mother Nature looks to be providing some snow during the next few days, trails are a long way from being ready, according to Lisa Stackhouse, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC).
“With all of the signs of winter upon us and more snow in the forecast, snowmobilers in Ontario are very eager to get the snowmobile season off to a quick start,” she said. “As a precaution, early snow is not an indication of trail availability as much prep work is required along with a significant base of snow and cold temperatures to open the trails. No matter what time of year it is, the OFSC recommends riders check the interactive trail guide on our website at http://www.ofsc.on.ca.”
As of Wednesday, there were no trails open across the province and even a good dump of snow over the next week or so won’t necessarily mean sledders can think about heading out, she added.
“Grooming operations have not started yet, so no OFSC trails are available to ride and all access to trails on private property remain closed,” Stackhouse said. “Snowmobilers are also reminded to stay off public roads and avoid trespassing on farmers’ fields.
“Even going for a short snowmobile ride can be very dangerous at this time of year with the existing poor conditions,” she added. “The ground, waterways and swamps are not frozen yet, nor is there enough snow base to protect yourself or your sled from terrain irregularities or other obstacles.”
Even with the lack of snow, there has already been a snowmobile-related death in the province this fall, according to OPP Sgt. Lise Grenier, Central Region specialized patrol co-ordinator.
“The riding season hasn’t started out on a good note so far,” he said. “It’s really unfortunate that we’ve had a fatality already this season on Nov. 24 in the Kawartha region. A gentleman was test driving a sled about the possibility of purchasing it and was not wearing a helmet.”
Provincial police continue to investigate.
While details about that particular incidents have yet to be released, there is an underlying theme to snowmobile and all-terrain vehicle fatalities, Grenier said.
“Last year’s (alcohol-related death) numbers were down, which is nice, but alcohol always seems to be up there when it comes to contributing factors. Drinking and sledding is not a good idea. Alcohol kills,” she said.
Getting caught drinking and riding any vehicle while impaired carries the same penalties as operating a car or truck: the same fines, the same loss of a drivers licence and possible criminal charges and/or imprisonment
“With the WARN range between .05 and .08, it’s still a three-day suspension whether you’re operating a car, a snowmobile or an ATV. Then it can escalate from there,” Grenier said. “Like any criminal charge, they can be laid anywhere, whether it’s on private property on a trail or on a highway.”
A quick call to police or 911 is in order if a suspected drunk driver is known to be operating a snowmobile or ATV, she added.
“If you see someone who is operating while they are impaired, it’s a dangerous situation. They could potentially kill themselves or someone else,” she said.
Article Source: Orillia Packet