More snow needed to snowmobile in Mukwonago area
While the latest winter storm provided some snow for sledding down local hills, snowmobilers still need several inches more before they can pull out their sleds and hit the trails in the Mukwonago area.
According to Ken Flanium, trail coordinator for the Mukwonago Sno-Snoops snowmobile club, Mukwonago snowmobile trails are closed unless covered with at least six inches of snow with temperatures below 32 degrees. The club grooms about 13 miles of trails in the Town and Village of Mukwonago and urges people to follow trail rules so the club can continue to provide trails for snowmobile enthusiasts in the area.
Flanium said there are a lot of areas where the trails pass that have crops of winter wheat planted. If snowmobiles travel on the fields where there is insufficient snow coverage or the temperatures are too warm, crops could be damaged and the Sno-Snoops would have to pay the landowner to replace the crop that was lost.
Additionally, snowmobilers not following trail rules, can create animosity with land owners who could choose to not allow the trails to pass through their property. The Sno-Snoops are at a point where it would be hard to get out of Mukwonago by snowmobile if the club loses any more trails, Flanium said.
The snowmobile club was founded in 1969 to "promote safe and organized snowmobiling in this area," according to the club website. The process for obtaining trails for the club starts by getting permission from the landowners that own the land where the trails go. They Sno-Snoops sign land-use agreements with the landowners, then remove brush and trim trees so the trails are as safe and passable.
With several members serving as groomers, the Sno-Snoops are one of a few clubs in Waukesha County that owns and operates its own groomer, which allows the club to groom the trails without waiting for the county. However, it costs a lot to maintain and use the groomer, Flanium added.
It takes Flanium most of a day to groom all 13 miles of trails.
"I really enjoy going out there and grooming the trails," Flanium said. "I like to get a nice smooth, flat trail."
A challenge the Sno-Snoops face is an aging, dwindling membership. Many of the people in the club now are retirees, Flanium pointed out.
"Unless we get younger people involved in the club to understand how trails are maintained and how to work with property owners, there won't be any trails," Flanium explained.
Without local trails, snowmobile owners would have to load sleds on trailers and head north, Flanium added.
Sno-Snoop membership costs $35 a year for a family, which includes dependents under 18. The club does require members to carry a current insurance police covering liability on their snowmobiles. Membership includes use of club trails, participation in club activities, along with membership in the Waukesha County Snowmobile Association, Walworth County Alliance and the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs (AWSC) which includes the Wisconsin Snowmobile News Magazine.
All Sno-Snoop snowmobile trails are well-marked, Flanium said, with numerous signs indicating if the trails are closed. Snowmobilers can also call the trail conditions hotline at (414) 299-0330. According to the Waukesha County Snowmobile Association website, snowmobilers can be fined for trespassing if riding on closed trails.
Snowmobile trail rules include:
Stay on marked trails.
Trials are closed if less than 6 inches of snow or temperatures are above 32 degrees.
No snowmobiling from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. on any property in the Village of Mukwonago.
Snowmobile speed limit within the Village of Mukwonago is 15 mph.
No operation of snowmobiles on any streets, highways or alleys.
Snowmobiles are only allowed to drive along the south side of Andrews Street at 10 mph from the Phantom Lake to the Village Pumper to get fuel.
Fines for riding on closed trails are about $100, Village of Mukwonago Lt. Ken Pileggi said.
Pileggi also pointed out that the rules for snowmobiles don't change during snow emergencies - snowmobiles are still not allowed on streets even if there is a snow emergency. Pileggi reminded people not to drive drunk.
Tickets for intoxicated snowmobile driving can run higher than $400.
For more information on the Sno-Snoops snowmobile club, visit http://snosnoops.com.
Trail maps and member applications are available at the Mukwonago Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, 801 Main St., Suite 1.
For more information on trails in Waukesha County, visit www.waukeshasnow.org.
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