Black Hills saw more snowmobile use

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — People used snowmobile trails much more often in the Black Hills this past season, but that also led to more accidents, the South Dakota Snowmobile Advisory Council heard Saturday.

Ryan Raynor, trail program specialist for the state Game, Fish and Parks Department, said 19 of the 25 accidents involved people who had rented machines. None were fatal. There were 21 accidents in the Black Hills during the 2018-2019 winter.

Council members also heard a suggestion how safety might be improved.

Kelly Weaver of Aberdeen, a director for the South Dakota Snowmobile Association, said the department could provide safety information to the businesses that offer machines for rent, and the information could be passed along to renters.

 “It’s the people who have never been on a snowmobile who have the biggest issues, right?” Weaver said.

Raynor wrote it down. “It’s a great idea,” he said.

The state-groomed Black Hills trails system officially opened December 15 and ran through March 31.

GFP also provides grants to help 15 snowmobile clubs pay for grooming and posting signs along trails in eastern South Dakota.

Traffic devices along state trails in the Black Hills counted 137,762 times that routes were used this past winter, up from 96,647 in 2018-2019. Thirteen of the 15 trails showed increases, including 10 that saw usage go up by more than 1,000.

The counter for one trail didn’t work for the second half of December.

“We were busy,” Black Hills trails manager Shannon Percy said.

“Two good snow years back to back makes a big difference there,” Raynor said.

Find more information from the teleconference meeting below:

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