Opinion: Some snowmobilers lack respect for others, says Heuvelton resident
Monday, January 22, 2018 - 8:54 am

To the Editor:

That time of year some of us yearn for all summer is finally here. But, it’s also a time many dread arriving: Snowmobile season. And just this week, I’ve been educated as to why there can be such a dislike for snowmobiling and those who ride them.

As a snowmobiler and member of a local snowmobile club, I am disappointed and angry about the behavior of a small number of riders in our area.

In on instance, snowmobilers drove through the middle of a cornfield that had not yet been harvested. Sound important?

After all, we have so many around us. But for the farmer, it’s perhaps food for his/her animals, perhaps a cash crop when sold.

No matter, money, time, effort and equipment went into the field with the hope of a return that is now lessened. Elsewhere, this particular individual took the time to harvest where the corn was on the snowmobile trail, so that club members could prepare the designated trail. His/her willingness to work with us was repaid with disrespect.

A second occasion of riding off the trail took place at the Pine Hill Cemetery, on the Eel-Wier Road. Members of our club placed signs this past fall to direct riders away from the cemetery. Unfortunately, careless snowmobilers chose to disregard the signs and have carved their own trail through the cemetery.

Heuvelton Central School is where the most offensive and disturbing incident occurred. A walking trail was recently put in. The designated snowmobile trail crosses it. Students, in an after-school club, were using the walking trail and met two snowmobiles at the intersection. Unbelievably, the riders barked at the students to “get off the trail” and used very foul language. School officials and members of our club are hoping to determine who the riders were. The Heuvelton Central Board of Education has, for years, worked with out club so that the trail can be maintained across a large portion of school property. No one would blame the school if the board decided to revote the privilege of using that land. Now, multiple signs are in place to warn riders to go slowly and that there may be pedestrians on school property.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to catch up with the guilty parties. So it may seem there is no consequence to the disrespectful riding taking place. There is, however. Landowners who have given permission to use their land have the option of keeping trails off it.

The trail system will collapse with the inappropriate use. Work maintaining trails, which is funded by snowmobile registrations, would end. That involves building and maintaining bridges and culverts, trails mapped out and built, groomers purchased, operated, and maintained, including occasional repairs, and yearly putting up and taking down of signage.

A significant amount of work goes into the snowmobile trains, all done by volunteers. I encourage everyone who enjoys snowmobiling to use good judgment on trails, as well as respecting the many others involved or encountered: Land owners, volunteers, anyone on trails and wildlife.

Many thanks to property owners who have allowed us to use their land, to the snowmobilers who ride with respect for landowners and the beautiful trail system they’ve enabled us to develop, and the volunteers who develop and maintain these trails.

Mary Hebert