Winter has officially arrived and a number of winter outdoor sport seasons are set to begin. One of the most popular in our region of New York is snowmobiling. Along with providing outdoor fun and excitement, snowmobiling also helps stimulate our state’s economy with many small businesses depending on a steady stream of sledding enthusiasts.
Several years ago, a New York State Snowmobile Association study found that snowmobiling generates $868 million in annual economic activity in New York – with much of that money be spent in the upstate region. Outdoor sportsmen are critical to the success of hotels, gas stations, restaurants, and other tourism related businesses in our part of the state.
According to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP), there are over 10,500 miles in the Statewide Snowmobile Trail System traversing 45 counties, maintained by over 200 clubs, and funded through 51 municipal sponsors.
Local snowmobiling clubs play a critical role in maintaining trails and promoting rider safety. The local clubs, in concert with landowners, decide the date trails open. In many cases, the openings coincide with the end of big game hunting season, so it is critical to check with your local club before hitting the trails.
The vast trail network is comprised of lands under the jurisdiction of OPRHP, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), NYS Canal Corporation, national forest land, local governments and many private landowners who have increasingly opened their property to snowmobiling with insurance coverage provided by the state snowmobile program.
The state snowmobile program was created by the legislature to fulfill several objectives, including:
• Promote the proper and safe use and operation of snowmobiles;
• Provide an adequate safety education program for young operators;