Every late summer snowmobilers head out to groom trails and post signs ahead of the upcoming snowmobile season.
The work, for the most part, has to be done by Oct. 1. the start of hunting season.
“Most landowners allow hunting and don’t want us on there after the season starts,” said Rollin Scroger, vice president of Genesee Sno Packers. “If the state gets its way, we’re going to lose more than a week, when a lot of us are out there riding with our families.”
The state Department of Environmental Conservation in September released a proposal to extend hunting season to Jan. 1 in the Southern Zone, which includes Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming counties, along with all of the Southern Tier, a popular area to operate sleds.
As it is, that state’s hunting season usually ends around the third week in December. This year it ends Dec. 22.
The state would extend the season for bowhunting and muzzleloading only.
The reason? According to DEC, many students are home from college, people are off work and this would give them a chance to hunt together. It’s an effort, DEC says, to retain hunters in the state.
The New York State Snowmobile Association, which includes the Sno Packers and more than 200 other clubs, vehemently opposes the plan.
The association and its members have been polling landowners regarding the proposal and NYSSA has written letters to the DEC.
The proposal, NYSSA says, “will have a negative impact on the snowmobile season.”
Among the issues cited:
n The snowmobile season will be shortened by at least one week.
n The proposal is not timely. As the Department will be releasing a complete deer management plan later this year, this proposal should be held until comments are received on the entire proposed plan so that the impacts of all of the Department’s actions can be collectively analyzed.”
n Negative impact on rural areas. “Many small businesses throughout the State have suffered enormously this past year because of the pandemic, and could take additional significant losses with a shortened snowmobile season. We estimate that losing one week of snowmobiling in New York’s Southern Zone may cause a loss of up to $13 million in direct spending by snowmobilers and a potential $1 million dollar loss in sales tax revenue.”
n The proposal interferes with efforts to groom trails in late December.
Many counties have passed resolutions opposing the DEC’s plan.
Wyoming County Board of Supervisors passed such a resolution on Tuesday.
“The current proposal would push the season past Jan. 1, closing our trail system for the week of Christmas and New Year’s when much of Wyoming County has ridable snow,” the resolution says.
The resolution cites the economic impact of the proposal and requests that the DEC delay the the proposal to allow for alternative proposals that would result in “minimal disruption to businesses, landowners, hunters and the snowmobile community.”
Scroger says his club is holding off on sending any letters to DEC until they know what landowners want.
The club is, however, opposed to extending the hunting season.
“We hunt but the hunting season is long enough as it is,” he said. “It’s 80 days already and extending it only puts more stress on the deer.”
NYSSA is encouraging people to send letters to the DEC.
The DEC is accepting public comment through Nov. 8. Comments can be submitted by email or in writing to Jeremy Hurst, NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, 625 Broadway, 5th Floor, Albany, NY 12233-4754. Or, email WildlifeRegs@dec.ny.gov.