Many Michigan residents enjoy hopping on a snowmobile in the winter months, be it recreationally or as part of their hunting and fishing endeavors. If you are one of those people, it may be necessary to evaluate your machine before continued use. The reason for this is that the noise created by snowmobiles can at times be a problem, and just so happens to be something that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will be on top of monitoring this winter.

As a Michigan resident or even a visitor, part of your experience with snowmobiling may be enjoying the trail system. This is a great source of fun for many, one that in some cases it is coming at the expense of private land owners. Since half of the nationally recognized trails run through private land, it is imperative that snowmobilers respect those land owners or else face loss of access. One of the many ways in which private land owners are being violated is by sound, hence the Michigan Department of Natural Resources campaigning to keep snowmobile sound to a minimum.

The focus of this noise reduction campaign will be located in high traffic areas, but don't let this lull you into a sense of complacency regarding the noise output of your own machine. You could find yourself encountering a conservation officer anywhere and should be prepared to have your machine tested right then and there. If your machine is found to exceed the allowed decibel level, a fine of up to $250 could be issued. Regarding the issue, the following quote was released via Statewide DNR News:

"Conservation officers are stepping up decibel-level enforcement to ensure snowmobilers are in compliance with state law and acceptable noise levels," said Cpl. John Morey, who oversees the snowmobile safety and education program within the DNR Law Enforcement Division. "In addition to the operator's legal ramifications of operating a loud snowmobile, this excessive noise has consequences that can affect other snowmobilers, including the loss of popular snowmobile trails."

Since no one wants to have to pay a fine or experience loss of trail use, this is an issue we as individuals need to address before setting forth into the wilderness. Take care to get your snowmobile in tiptop operating condition before you ride, including an assessment and adjustment of any noise output as needed. In order to retain access to private land without noise complaints jeopardizing the partnership between land owners and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, we must all stay on top of this.

If you are unsure as to how to evaluate your snowmobile's performance, taking it to the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for parts and service is a good start. New snowmobiles are manufactured to be compliant with noise levels, so if you have a new machine, you should have no worries. However, if you recently acquired a used machine, it could be possible that aftermarket modifications were made to it that may need to be removed to ensure compliance with not only the noise regulations but also other state laws. Snowmobile levels should be as follows per the DNR News Release:

"For snowmobiles manufactured after July 1, 1977, and sold or offered for sale in Michigan, 78 decibels at 50 feet, as measured using the 2003 Society of Automotive Engineers standard J192. For a stationary snowmobile manufactured after July 1, 1980, and sold or offered for sale in Michigan, 88 decibels at 13.1 feet, as measured using the 2004 Society of Automotive Engineers standard J2567."

If we wish to continue enjoying the 6,200 plus miles of snowmobile trails currently available to us in Michigan, we have to do our part. Be sure to keep your snowmobile in accordance not just for the sake of those trails but also to avoid being assessed with a fine. If we all work together on this and do our part, future generations of snowmobilers will be able to enjoy the snowmobile trail system just as we have.