Burnside Trail may open to snowmobilesSnowmobiles now will be allowed to use a small portion of Burnside Trail after a narrow City Council vote Monday.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
Snowmobiles now will be allowed to use a small portion of Burnside Trail after a narrow City Council vote Monday.
The council voted 4-3 introducing a request from the Red Wing Riverview Riders Snowmobile Club to allow for legal riding on .38 miles of the trial from Motel Avenue to Burnside Cemetery.
“We thought if we could do a legal trail, a marked trail, a safe trail … that’s the whole point of the whole thing, to keep it as safe as we can,” Gregg Diercks, trails coordinator for the group, said.
By approving the plan, the council denied requests by some residents in the same area to plow and maintain the trail for walking during the winter months.
The plowing request was for a larger portion of the trail, about .57 miles. The cost would have been about $1,080 a season to maintain that piece, Nardinger said.
“I’m really conflicted about this,” Council member Lisa Bayley said. “I’m not excited about plowing, though I understand the desire for it and who would be using it. I think this is just another example of one of the city services that we’ve had to cut based on our economic issues.”
A number of residents spoke at Monday’s meeting in favor of plowing, especially to make it easier and safer for pedestrians and kids walking to school in the winter.
The school recently updated its walking rules, which state that those in grades kindergarten through fourth that live within a mile of the school must walk. The area is within a mile of Burnside Elementary.
“Safety’s got to come back to being job one here,” Council member Mike Schultz said.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources both said they had no concerns about extending the snowmobile trail, said Lynn Nardinger, deputy public works director.
In fact, the DNR has offered to provide some funding to install signs and keep up the trail. The snowmobile club will be in charge of maintaining the trail. It also will post a 10 mph speed limit.
“We’re not here to step on any residents’ toes,” Diercks said.
Some snowmobilers already use the area to cross, he and Council member Dean Hove said. Grooming and marking the trail could make it safer.
“When you groom it, it actually makes a good walking surface,” Engineering Director Ron Rosenthal added.
Council members Bayley, Peggy Rehder, Marilyn Meinke and Dean Hove voted in favor of the snowmobile plan. President Ralph Rauterkus and members Dan Bender and Schultz voted against it.
The issue will come before the council again for a final vote.
Minnesota DNR offers tips for safer snowmobiling
With the perhaps snowmobile season under way at last due to snowfall, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources encourages snowmobilers to drive safely.
“I want people to take advantage of the snowmobiling opportunities that exist in Minnesota, so now is the time to prepare sleds and learn how to avoid the possible dangers that are present when snowmobiling,” said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Enforcement Education Program coordinator.
Last season there were 13 snowmobile related fatalities and numerous injuries in Minnesota. Hammer believes all these incidents were preventable.
Hammer said riding snowmobiles can be a safe and enjoyable form of outdoor recreation when people follow some basic safety rules:
• Obey the 50 mph speed limit in Minnesota, and remember that trail conditions often require slower speeds.
• Slow down, especially at night; at nighttime speeds of 40 mph or greater, riders don’t see a hazard in time to stop.
• Stay away from alcohol, which is a major factor in most accidents.
• Be cautious of hidden ditch dangers such as sign posts, fence posts, guy wires, stumps, rocks, telephone and cable boxes, culverts, and leftover construction materials; fresh snow and low light conditions make these hazards difficult to see.
• Stay off the roadway, shoulder and inside slope of state and county highways.
• Operate snowmobiles in the same direction as highway traffic when riding one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise.
• Stay on designated trails, demonstrating respect for landowners who provide most of the riding opportunities, and because traveling into the unknown has many risks.
• Stay off the median of four-lane highways.
• Come to a complete stop and look both ways before crossing any roadway and cross at a 90-degree angle.
• Check weather conditions before heading out.
• Remember that ice is never safe.
• Never ride alone.
• Display a current snowmobile registration.
• Take a safety training course.
To legally ride a snowmobile, residents born after Dec. 31, 1976, need a valid snowmobile safety certificate in their possession, or a snowmobile safety certificate indicator on their driver’s license or on their Minnesota ID card.
For a copy of the DNR’s 2011-2012 Minnesota Snowmobile Safety Laws, Rules, and Regulations handbook, and for safety training information, contact the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll free 888-MINNDNR (646-6367), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.