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State officials: We need snowmobilers to help curb loud sleds

U.S Department of Agriculture

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is calling on snowmobilers to ditch modifications to  their sleds' exhaust systems that can make snowmobiles exceed legal noise limits. 

DNR officials say they continue to get complaints from the public about loud sleds.

"They're modifying them by putting on different types of exhaust pipes or what are called cans," said John Pepin, a DNR spokesperson. "And by using those modifications, they make the sleds actually louder than they would be, had they used the original stock exhaust that came from the manufacturer."

According to the DNR, its conservation officers are seeing increased use of "trail can" exhausts.

"These are cans that are designed to pass a decibel test, but they are still very loud and undermine our efforts to secure trail easements and provide opportunities for snowmobilers to ride," said Lt. Ryan Aho, a district supervisor in Marquette, in a written statement. "Most trail cans will pass a decibel test if new, but may fail after a few thousand miles."

DNR officials are also calling on snowmobilers to limit their off-trail riding to public land.

Pepin said complaints about loud sleds and trespassing often go hand in hand. 

"Anytime you're dealing with loud sleds or private property trespass, you're undermining the goodwill that landowners have extended to us to let snowmobilers be there," Pepin said.

Pepin said this can result in landowners revoking their permission to route snowmobile trails on their property.

"Then, trail sections have to be rerouted," Pepin said. "Or in some cases, if there's not a clear way to reroute it, you have to close down sections of trail."

"We're trying to get voluntary compliance from the riding community to improve these situations to help preserve our trail system and to keep snowmobiling from getting a bad name," said Pepin. But he said riders need to know that DNR conservation officers are also out on patrol to enforce laws limiting noise.

According to the DNR, the penalty for violating sound levels for snowmobiles is a civil infraction, with fines of over $200 and possible impoundment of the snowmobile.