Just like on the roadway, snowmobile riders are required to follow the rules of the trail. Enforcing these rules is the Wood County Sheriff’s Department, which patrols the 271 miles of snowmobile trails in the county.
“Our top priority here at the sheriff’s department is to actively patrol these trails to ensure they’re safe and remain open for the public to enjoy this great winter activity,” said Deputy Matt Susa. “Trespassing, operating while intoxicated, speed, stop sign violations, registration, and trail passes are all violations we enforce while on patrol.”
The department works closely with local wardens and focuses its patrol around key events happening on the trail system during peak hours.
Riders are reminded that if they go off the trail, it’s trespassing. Since private landowners make it possible for snowmobilers to access the trails, their support is essential.
“The entire state of Wisconsin has a huge problem with trespassing, whether it be cutting corners on a farmer’s field or going up an embankment just because it’s there,” said Lori Heideman, Vice President at the Association Of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs (AWSC).
Seven snowmobile clubs in Wood County groom and maintain the trails. The cost of a trail pass is designed to encourage riders to join these clubs: for a non-member, a trail pass costs $30, while a member pays $10.
The $2 million in revenue generated from trail passes goes toward funding maintenance projects, bridges, and supplemental grooming.
“Before we had the trail passes, the club didn’t get paid for the entire amount of grooming that they did. Now with the new trail pass, they get paid for all of their grooming,” said Heideman.
This year, for the first time, the AWSC is looking to fund trail miles that were previously never funded.