New and expanded snowmobile certification courses have been offered at the start of this cold-weather season, but most trail courses right now are still coarse.

New and refurbished bridges can be seen along many of the state’s designated trail crossings at waterways and steep gulches. But a lack of sustained snow cover has left most areas not ride-worthy so far.

Many areas set snow-depth requirements before snowmobile access can be granted. Also, proposed state legislation could entice more non-trail operators to obtain a snowmobile license to head out fishing or hunting.

Park trail permits

Beaver Island State Park officials began issuing snowmobile permits Saturday for the more than 12 miles of designated trails at the park.

Trails are open at the park from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Operators must apply for and obtain a free permit before coursing these trails.

A snow cover of at least three inches is required before trails are open.

Applicants must show a valid registration and proof of current insurance to receive this season’s “Snowmobile Use Permit”. Permits are available at the Beaver Island State Park Office weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Call 773-3271.

Regulation proposal

Assemblyman Sean Ryan has co-sponsored legislation that would establish a new category of snowmobile registration for operators using machines only for accessing fishing and hunting sites during open seasons.

Currently, to operate a snow machine, all owners must purchase a yearly registration costing $45 for members of the New Yorkk State Snowmobile Association and $100 for non-members.

State and association fees are then placed in a New York Snowmobile Trail Development Fund, which supports more than 10,000 miles of public-access trails across the state.

Assemblyman Ryan, in Assembly bill A1141, proposes legislation that would reduce the fee for seasonal operators who do not use the state’s funded trails. He noted, “The majority of the new $25 fee will go to support the Fund, which helps maintain our trail system and enforce New York’s snowmobile laws.” The new fee structure would devote $15 to the trail fund.

This legislation is accompanied with a Senate bill (S1206) that would further this registration change. To learn more about this proposed bill and offer input on the registration change, Assemblyman Ryan welcomes office calls at 885-9630.