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Snowmobilers are waiting for snow

YATES COUNTY—Snowmobile operation requires several essentials, however two of the most important items are missing from Yates County at this time; frozen ground and at least three inches of snow.

Even when there is sufficient snow to ride, finding a place to operate a snowmobile can be a bit of a challenge. The machines are allowed in Keuka Lake State Park, Italy Hill State Forest and along the Keuka Outlet Trail. Other trails dot the countryside, some with the permission of property owners and other portions crossed without permission.

The portion of the Outlet Trail in the Village of Penn Yan allows snowmobiling when conditions permit. In the past three years signs have been posted indicating when the trail is closed. There have been some concerns about use of the trail by snowmobiles. During the past few years, weather conditions have kept use of the trail at a minimum.

Barrington resident John Moravec is a longtime snowmobiler. He said some trails in the area have been in use for more than 40 years, but are not designated as official trails. Moravec said the lack of snow in Yates County may be a result of the influence of the lakes on snowfall. 

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has the responsibility for development, maintenance and oversight of a statewide snowmobile program. One of their goals is to limit operation of snowmobiles on highways and on private property without the consent of the owner. 

Age of operators of the powerful machines is also regulated. Youngsters age 10 to 17 are required to take snowmobile certification courses. These courses are recommended for individuals of any age. There are 10,300 miles of trails in the statewide trail system.

These trails cover 47 counties and are maintained by more than 200 snowmobile clubs. Some trails in the western portion of the county are maintained by Yates Snow Travelers Association (YASTA). 

The machines must be registered. In 2009, there were 400 of the machines registered in Yates County. Many owners belong to YASTA. There are many groups such as YASTA throughout New York State that work with local law enforcement  organizations to support the sport. Membership in an established snowmobile organization allows owners to register their machines at a lower fee.

Individuals interested in snowmobiles can see them in racing action next month. The Eastern Nationals will be at Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 4 and 5. The event will feature Pro and Semi Pro racing.



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