12/22/11 Indiana Conservation Officers would like to let the people of Indiana know that just because it is cold outside does not mean that they should stop recreating there. With the coming of Christmas and Christmas break Conservation Officers are encouraging people to get out and enjoy nature whether at a State Park or Fish and Wildlife property. With Santa approaching fast Conservation Officers would like to remind anyone that is getting a snowmobile or ORV for Christmas that many laws and responsibilities go along with their operation. Some of the laws are registrations, knowing whether the county road system is open to operation, being 16 years old with a valid driver’s license and many others that can be found on the DNR website under regulations statutes and rules. If and when we do get snow there are also several snowmobile trails that are open to the public in the Northern part of the state. The trails are Miami Snowmobile Trail, 58 miles in Elkhart County, Buffalo Run Snowmobile Trail, 63 miles in St. Joseph County, and finally the Salamonie Snowmobile Trail, 40 miles in Wabash and Huntington Counties. These trails have a website all their own which offers updates on snowfall as well as what shape they are in.
If snowmobile riding is not your cup of tea, then maybe when the ice encompasses the local lakes fishing could add a great time as well as a nice meal. Conservation Officers would like to remind those fishermen who like to recreate on the ice that there is no such thing as “SAFE ICE” only safer ice. It is recommended that the ice be at least 4 inches thick, and be clear like the ice that comes out of your ice maker in your refrigerator. Any ice that is not 4 inches thick and clear may be unsafe to go out on. Finally not all bodies of water freeze the same way and the ice may be thinner in some places so make sure to drill test holes to make sure that the ice is 4 inches thick and in good shape. Conservation Officers also recommend wearing some type of PFD (personal flotation device) while ice fishing. Also know that there are laws for ice fishing shanties and the maximum size that ice fishing holes can be drilled or cut. Further there are also several laws that deal with ORV and snowmobile operation on the ice. With this said always wear a helmet when operating snowmobiles or ORV’s and get out and have a fun and safe winter.