AuSable Valley Trail Riders offering youth snowmobile safety course

HARRISVILLE — A youth snowmobile safety course, a requirement for youth ages 12-16 to ride on state snowmobile trails and public land, will be offered Saturday at the Alcona County building.

Dave Hanson, safety instructor for the AuSable Valley Trail Riders, a snowmobile group in Alcona and Iosco counties, said the course is being offered to as many as 20 youths. The course will take place at the county building beginning at 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. To sign up people can contact Hanson by calling 739-4711.

“The state of Michigan requires any youth under the age of 16 to possess a snowmobile safety certificate to operate anywhere out on public land, out on lakes, out on the marked trail systems,” he said. “Anytime you leave your own property you’re supposed to have a snowmobile safety certificate with you.”

According to Hanson youth between 12-16 can ride solo on the trail systems. He said any youth under 12 must have a certificate, and have to be riding with a parent or guardian on the system. He said people can receive legal penalties, sometimes stiff ones, if they are caught violating the law.

“They can be ticketed or they can be fined,” he said. “If they’re doing something recklessly they can even have their vehicles impounded.”

Hanson said many parents do not know their children must have the certification to be riding the trails and many times law enforcement simply gives them a warning. All the same, he said the classes are important for youth not only to learn the safety aspect of riding, but for other reasons.

“Our class not only teaches rules and regulations but we teach a lot of other things that can be useful,” he said. “We cover basic first aid, basic machine maintenance tips and tricks that you need for snowmobiles and where it’s OK to operate on the trail system.”

Hanson said the course is completely free for youth.

“Our club sponsors the class,” he said. “We provide a morning snack for the youth, we provide pizza for lunch; really all they have to do is bring something they want to drink for the day.”

Also, youth do not have to dress for the weather as the entire course is taught inside.

“The state does not require hands-on training,” he said. “This is all book work; it’s rules and regulations. That is what the state test is about.”

According to Hanson, parents are welcome to attend the course with their kids. He said snowmobiling is very popular in the area.

“It’s a great family activity,” he said. “There are miles and miles of trails. It’s a great pastime to take a Saturday or Sunday and cruise around the county.”

Jason Ogden can be reached via email at jogden@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Jason on Twitter @jo_alpenanews. Read his blog, Sunny side up, with Jason at www.thealpenanews.com.