Snowmobile trail permit dollars are backbone of program

LANSING — It’s almost time to grab sleds, gather friends and discover the thrill and beauty of Michigan snowmobiling.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources encourages residents and nonresidents to purchase their snowmobile trail permits and ride more than 6,000 miles of designated trails and thousands more miles of public roads and lands. Michigan’s snowmobile program is 100-percent funded by trail permit and registration dollars – dollars that are directly reinvested into the program for the benefit of snowmobilers.

Ron Yesney, the DNR’s Upper Peninsula trails coordinator, said the purchase of a snowmobile trail permit not only gives the buyer access to one of the nation’s most interconnected snowmobile trail systems, but also directly helps fund grooming, signage, maintenance, bridge and culvert construction, purchase of new equipment, liability insurance; maintenance of trailhead amenities (signage, bathrooms, plowing of parking lots) and other snowmobile-related expenditures.

“Snowmobilers are encouraged to purchase their snowmobile trail permit early in the season,” said Yesney. “The DNR uses the funding to support the more than 60 nonprofits, clubs and local units of government that receive grant funding for the purpose of grooming, signing and maintaining trails across the state.”

The snowmobile trail permit is valid for one year, which begins Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30 of the following year. The permit enables snowmobilers to ride state-designated trails and public roads and public lands (where authorized). State-designated trails are open Dec. 1-March 31 and grooming occurs when there is enough snow on the ground.

Snowmobile trail permits are sold for $48 and are available for sale:

– Online through DNR E-License at www.mdnr-elicense.com.

– Online through the the Michigan Snowmobile Association at www.msasnow.org.

– In person at a number of DNR customer service centers.

– In person at a number DNR hunting and fishing license vendors.

Snowmobilers should remember that snowmobiles must be registered with the Michigan Secretary of State (unless sleds are used solely on private property).

Registration is good for three years, and those registration dollars support the purchase of easements, law enforcement on trails and safety education.

Yesney said it’s also important to note that more than 50 percent of designated snowmobile trails are located on private land at the sole discretion of individual landowners. In recent years, approximately 400 miles of trails on those private lands have closed because of excessive trespassing (riders not staying on trails) and modified exhausts (loud pipes).

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