Sheriff urges snowmobilers to think safety

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DEERFIELD — Heavy snows have arrived and with them will come snowmobilers by the trail-full. Local law enforcement officials want all riders to be safe and to respect the trails.

“This is a fun sport. We want everybody to come out and have a good time — but you need to be safe,” warned Sheriff Robert M. Maciol this morning. The sheriff was joined at the Deerfield Fire Station this morning by representatives from several local law enforcement agencies and snowmobile clubs. The Rome Police Snowmobile Patrol was in attendance.

There are over 560 miles of groomed snowmobile trails in Oneida County, officials said. They are cared for by 12 different volunteer snowmobile clubs. The trails extend into both Herkimer and Lewis counties, with law enforcement officials from both counties in Deerfield this morning. Maciol warned snowmobilers that law enforcement will be on the lookout this year for equipment violations, registration violations and modified exhausts. Maciol said his department will be getting new equipment to measure the sound output of modified snowmobile exhausts.

“We cannot stress enough to the snowmobilers that you have to respect the land,” Maciol said, warning that snow might be covering up farm fields and other crops, which can be damaged by heavy sleds. Maciol warned against going off the trails to party or drink.

Lewis County Sheriff Michael Carpinelli also warned against snowmobiling while intoxicated. Carpinelli said that 80 percent of fatal snowmobile accidents are caused by alcohol.

The state Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation department has snowmobiling information and rules available on their website at www.nysparks.com. And www.oneidacountytourism.com also has local information about snowmobiling. Officials said the new trail maps will be available soon.

Snowmobile tips:

• Avoid all alcohol before and during a ride.

• Operate at a speed that’s safe for conditions.

• Become familiar with your snowmobile and make sure it is properly maintained.

• Check on trail conditions with local snowmobile clubs and pay attention to forecasts.

• Always wear a helmet and proper clothing and carry emergency supplies.

• Never ride alone, and always let someone know about your travel plans.

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