Dane County Winter Recreation
November 30, 2007
Land & Water Resources
The first large snowfall is predicted for this weekend, which will motivate outdoors enthusiasts to begin gearing-up for winter activities including snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, skating, sledding and ice fishing. Dane County Parks Director, Darren Marsh, stated that people are excited and ready for a traditional winter where they can actually count on having snow and good ice conditions throughout the winter months.
Marsh is pleased that early season snows help promote winter activities, but also warned that it may be too early for certain activities. He noted that the County Snowmobile Trail System would not open this weekend even if there were 6 inches of snow and below freezing temperatures (conditions used to determine trail opening and closing). Snowmobile clubs are still installing signs and preparing the trails for use, and there are also certain trail sections where crops continue to be harvested.
Paul Statz, President of the Dane County Council of Snowmobile Clubs, said that 90% of the county trail system is on private land and that it is important for snowmobilers to follow all trail rules and respect all property. As trails are signed and maintained by volunteers, Statz encourages snowmobilers to become involved with their local club. Statz believes trails can be readied for use over the next week.
The Dane County Sheriff’s Department Marine and Trails Patrol also urges using extreme caution for activities around any body of water. While some of the smaller ponds within the area have started to freeze over, the ice may not support any weight. Marsh stated that “first ice” also draws the avid ice-fishing anglers and that every year there are people who fall through the ice.
According to Marsh, there are several early season activities such as cross-country skiing and sledding that park patrons can participate in with the first snows. Skiers who like to set their own track will be out in force. Marsh stated that Dane County’s protocol for the first snows is to allow people to set their own track and utilize what snow is available. After several days, the County will begin packing down any remaining snow to create a trail base. If conditions remain favorable, the packed snow trail base will be used for a foundation to provide groomed trails with each new snowfall. There are a number of municipalities that have sledding hills. Marsh suggested that people look locally for the best opportunities in their area.
For the latest on Winter activities information and trail conditions, please call the Dane County Parks Information line at (608) 242-4576 or use their website http://www.countyofdane.com/lwrd/parks/.