Cutting Corners on Trails

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Snowmobile trails across Eau Claire County have only been open for about a week and a half, but some private landowners are already having problems.

John Staszcuk, with the County Parks and Forests Department, says some snowmobilers are not staying within the 10 to 12 foot corridors that the state sets up across private land. And he says that could lead to the end of some sections of trails across the county.

Private landowner Douglas Knuth has a snowmobile trail running through his farm, which he says won’t be there next year. That’s the trail located near the junction of County Highway D and Highway 12.

He says he’s fed up with snowmobilers cutting the corners, a move he says could be hurting hay fields.

Staszcuk says snowmobilers need to realize that the county only has some trails because private landowners allow them.

"If we can't keep the rural landowners happy with the snowmobile trail program, we're going to be shut-down,” Staszcuk said. “That is, the snowmobile trail programs are going to be shut down and we just won't have any opportunities."

Staszcuk says he’s also had some complaints for the snowmobile trail that runs near the junction of County Highway Q and K, north of Fall Creek.

He says cutting corners on snowmobile trails can not only be annoying to land owners, but also dangerous to riders.

"There may be some stumps within the fields that are covered with snow, there may be some other depressions or perhaps even some creeks flowing through it that have frozen yet melting ice water over them, so it is important from a safety standpoint to stay within the corridor as well."

Staszcuk says DNR wardens and the trail boss know about this ongoing problem.

If you’re caught riding outside the snowmobile trail corridors, he says you could face a fine of $250 or more.