With additional snow expected in the coming weeks, the U.S. Forest Service is encouraging all riders to put safety first by practicing safe snowmobile practices and observing COVID-19 precautions.

Green Mountain National Forest officials are advising snowmobilers to heed all gates and signs and to stay off roads and trails that are closed.

Forest Service employees and snowmobile clubs throughout Vermont have been working to clear trees and other debris from trails.

Trail users should use extra caution early in the season as some trees may be weak due to snow accumulation and downed tree hazards are likely. Snowmobilers are also asked to adhere to COVID-19 precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with local and state health and safety guidance.

Weather permitting, snowmobile use is allowed on designated trails within the forest for four months, from Dec. 16 to April 15.

“Patrols aimed at enforcing rules and regulations, monitoring trail conditions and providing visitor information will occur throughout the forest,” said John Sinclair, forest supervisor for the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests. “All of these trails allow mixed uses, so people are snowshoeing, hiking and cross-country skiing, as well as using snowmobiles.

Snowmobilers should travel responsibly and yield to other users,” said Sinclair.

The maximum speed is 35 miles per hour on state and federal land and Vermont has a tough law about being intoxicated while snowmobiling that also includes drugs. Operators must wear helmets and stay on designated trails. All snowmobiles must be legally registered, have liability insurance and operators must purchase a VAST Trails Maintenance Assessment decal.

Officials also encourage winter trail users to pack a flashlight, cell phone, food and extra warm clothing in case of an emergency.

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