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Snowmobilers urged to be cautious until hunting season ends

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BARNES CORNERS — In the wake of a relatively snow-free winter, snowmobile enthusiasts are hopeful that the late November snowfall portends a much better season this year.

However, officials are warning sledders to be cautious until hunting season ends in a couple of weeks.

“Let’s respect the hunters for their time,” said Gary R. Stinson, president of the Lewis County Snowmobile Association and the Barnes Corners Sno-Pals snowmobile club. “Our time is coming.”

Some Tug Hill Plateau trails and seasonal roads are now accessible by snowmobilers, but clubs will not begin grooming until after hunting season ends Dec. 9, Mr. Stinson said.

“It’s all kind of a gentleman’s agreement,” Lewis County Legislator Richard C. Lucas, R-Barnes Corners, also co-owner of the Montague Inn, said of the annual grooming embargo.

However, after historically low snowfall last winter kept snowmobilers off the trails and out of the businesses that cater to them, having 8 to 10 inches of snow on the ground here already is a welcome sign.

“I’d like to see a lot of snow and some cold weather,” Mr. Stinson said.

While the long-term forecast includes some warmer weather and possible rain, that could actually prove favorable for snowmobilers if the above-freezing temperatures don’t last long enough to melt away all the early snowfall, he said.

“Rain won’t hurt us too much,” Mr. Stinson said. “It certainly makes the base harder.”

Hunters also help out by driving over the snow-covered roads before clubs begin grooming.

“That helps us get them packed down,” Mr. Stinson said.

The association president said he didn’t see many snowmobilers trying to take advantage of the preseason snowfall while traversing the seasonal roads Monday to check the conditions.

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