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Know your snowmobiling rules before hitting the trails

The recent snowfall has created wonderful opportunities for winter enthusiasts from cross country skiers to snowmobile enthusiasts. With those opportunities come some additional responsibilities, especially for snowmobile enthusiasts.

Conservation officer Joe Stattelman of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said snowmobile enthusiasts should know rules and regulations for operating their sleds in the area.

Complaints about snowmobile use vary, Stattelman said. Most riders use responsible and ethical practices in their runs, but a common complaint is about where snowmobiles can be operated.

"They have to know where they can ride and where they can't be," Stattelman said.

Stattelman said riders also should know that it is illegal for a rider to run their snowmobile over open water. They also need to stay off roadways, ride ethically, stick to riding available trails, and be safe.

Certification is required for all riders born after Dec. 31, 1976. Adult riders can complete an independent study CD or attend a youth safety training course. Riders 11 to 15 are eligible for the youth certification course, but certificates for 11-year-olds will not be good until the student is 12 years old.

The youth certification courses are classes in basic snowmobile operation and include a field day to test hands-on operating skills.

If any young riders missed the training day in Detroit Lakes, information on additional youth certification programs is available on the DNR Web site, Additional information for riders can be found at the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association Web site at

Another certification class will be offered at Two Inlets in Becker County from Jan. 3 to Jan. 5. Cheryl Wilke of the Forest Riders Snowmobile Club in Park Rapids said they run the class and get students from Bemidji and Walker and other towns in the area.

"We take up to about 30 students and we've got plenty of room," Wilke said.

To sign up for the class or get more information, contact Wilke at 218-732-5992.

Stattelman said all the information a snowmobile rider needs to operate their machines in a safe and legal manner can be found in the regulation booklet put out by the DNR.

He said copies of the booklet could be obtained from the Department of Motor Vehicles, deputy registrar or at snowmobile dealerships. The booklet is also available in PDF format at the DNR Web site.

"We just ask that people read the regulation booklet," Stattelman said.