GRANTSBURG, Wis. -- Winter strong-armed its way into Burnett County’s autumn fueling early snowstorms and leaving mixed landscape and waterway conditions for snowmobilers, prompting Wis. Department of Natural Resources wardens to remind riders to check with local clubs and businesses for ice and trail conditions and to ride with safety in mind.
DNR Conservation Wardens [pictured left-to-right above] Chris Spaight, Dustin Gabrielson and Zachery Feest, all serving Burnett County, say the snow fell, blanketing early ice covers forming on ponds, lakes and streams – as well as possibly other saturated marsh and swamp areas.
The DNR does not monitor local ice conditions or the thickness of the ice.
“The local bait shops, fishing clubs, snowmobile clubs, outfitters and resorts often have the most current information on local ice conditions – as well as the local trail conditions,” Warden Feest said. “We do want riders to know the importance of checking with your local clubs and shops about the ice conditions and trail status, so riders enjoy a safe outing. Make sure you know before you go.”
Because of the rains, saturated ground conditions, snowfalls and fluctuating temperatures that hit the northwest region as well as statewide, the wardens say what would be considered normal for early winter may not be normal at all.
Remember snowmobile safety tips, too, such as these three: Stay sober, maintain safe and responsible speeds and stay on marked trails.
Here are more easy-to-follow ice and snowmobile safety tips from the wardens:
- Likely, the ice looks thicker – and safer – than it is
- The best advice to follow is no matter what the month, consider all ice unpredictable.
- There can be cracks and changes in the thickness you may not be able to see. This is especially true after the first cold nights and the early ice is spotted.
- Always remember that ice is never completely safe under any conditions.
- Ride with a friend. It’s safer and more fun.
- Check trail conditions on Travel Wisconsin's Snow Report webpage or with local snowmobile clubs; ice conditions with local bait shops, clubs or sheriffs' departments.
- Stay on marked trails and routes. Snowmobile clubs work hard to secure permission for trails on private property. Cutting corners or going off trail, upsets landowners and closes trails. Don't ruin the experience for others.
- Practice "Zero Alcohol" which is a personal choice to not consume any alcohol while snowmobiling. Riders wait until they are done riding before consuming any alcohol.
- Use a safe and responsible speed based on the conditions; experience, visibility, trail conditions and volume of riders
- Carry a cell phone, and let people know where you are going and when you’ll return home.
- Wear proper clothing and equipment, including a life jacket or a float coat to help you stay afloat and to help slow body heat loss.
- Carry a couple of spikes and a length of light rope in an easily accessible pocket to help pull yourself – or others – out of the ice.
- Do not travel in unfamiliar areas -- or at night.
- Know if the lake has inlets, outlets or narrows that have currents can thin the ice.
- Take extra mittens or gloves so you always have a dry pair.
- At DNR, we want you to be safe enjoying the outdoors. Common sense is the greatest ally in preventing ice related accidents.