Next weekend is free snowmobile weekend

Courtesy of the MASTERS This is a picture of Whealkate Bluff in South Range, a week ago. With the warm weather this past week, the hill that was supposed to host its Wildlife Refuge Cabins-Pat’s Motorsports Snowmobile Hillclimb would have even more signs of dirt ... in place of snow, which is why the event was canceled.

Every winter, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources offers a weekend when residents and nonresidents do not have to purchase a Snowmobile Trail Permit or even pay registration fees to the Secretary of State.

That weekend this year is next weekend, February 9-11. The DNR website states, “Residents and out-of-state visitors legally can ride more than 6,000 miles of DNR-designated snowmobile trails, public roads and public lands (where authorized). The snowmobile trail permit and registration requirement is waived.” The DNR reminds snowmobilers that all other snowmobile rules and regulations still apply.

The concept of waiving fees dates back to the MDNR’s Free Fishing Weekend, which spawned the Free Ice Fishing Weekend. The MDNR has expanded this to include Free ORV Weekend in the summer.

The DNR did this to get new people into the different outdoor recreation opportunities that the state has to offer. It really is a good weekend to get friends and family to come up to the UP and enjoy the trails…that is providing we have snow on those trails.

This tragic winter has taken its toll on so many businesses. Businesses that rely on the money snowmobilers bring. The lack of snow, coupled with the warm weather, has canceled this weekend’s Pat’s Motorsports-Wildlife Refuge Cabins WINTERNATIONALS Snowmobile and Snow Bike Hillclimb. Whealkate Bluff was already down to dirt last weekend before this past warm week. Earlier in January, the first scheduled MASTERS Terra-X race, sponsored by the North Country Snowmobile Club in Ontonagon, was postponed till Feb. 17.

With the extended weather forecast in the upper 30s/low 40s through this coming week, even that event is now showing signs of no pulse. The MASTERS will not do any event that there is not enough snow for the race to be safe for the competitors. The decision on the Feb. 17 Terra-X race in Ontonagon will be made next weekend.

You are asked to check the MASTERS Racing Circuit Facebook page or website, www.mastersracing.net.

The 30-plus year circuit also has the Mid-America Championship Hillclimb scheduled for Feb. 24-25 at Whealkate Bluff in South Range. It is at that race that the MASTERS determines which hillclimbers will qualify for this year’s world championship hillclimb in Jackson, Wyoming.

“If the Mid-America Championship Hillclimb is canceled due to lack of snow, we will then send those that represented and/or earned the right to represent the MASTERS at last year’s World Championships to this year’s world championships,” stated Sandy Schulz of the MASTERS.

Other events that are still on the table for this year include the Terra-X/V5 Enduro Finals on March 2, and the Sleds for Vets Weekend and Freestyle Competition on March 9 at the Range Snowmobile Club in Atlantic Mine.

These events are just one way to bring people and dollars to the Copper Country. However, it is the thousands of snowmobile trail riders that bring in over $1 million to the area’s economy.

It’s not too dramatic to say Copper Country businesses need snow to survive.


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