Busy Snowmobiling Weekend Expected; Maine Warden Service To Be Out In Full Force 

All this new snow is a belated Christmas gift for snowmobilers.According to the Maine Warden Service, approximately 90,000 smowmobiles are registered in the state of Maine, the equivalent of 80% of the state’s residents. It’s an activity that provides a big spark to Maine’s economy. “The latest estimates are snowmobiling generates about $350 million in economic activity in Maine. It provides the full time equivalent of about 2300 jobs,” Bob Meyers, Executive Director of the Maine Snowmobile Association.In the past 48 hours, Maine’s snowmobiling hotspots have seen more snow than all of January and most of February combined last year, which means the Maine Warden Service is expecting a busy weekend.Friday they offered up a few safety reminders to those heading out on the trails. Their main objective: to reduce crashes and provide a safe environment. “3 of the 5 fatalities last year that we encountered were either speed or alcohol related, so we’re going to be focusing on that,” said Colonel Joel Wilkinson of the Maine Warden Service.The penalty for operating a snowmobile under the influence is almost identical to driving drunk in a motor vehicle. The only exception, you don’t lose your driver’s license. Game wardens will be out in full force this year. “You can expect to see game wardens,” Wilkinson said. “You can expect if you’re operating at night to encounter checkpoints of game wardens checking for OUIs, looking for safety compliance, registration compliance. You will be checked at some point.” Wardens are also reminding people to have a trip plan and to let someone know your plan. Last year the warden service conducted 49 search and rescue operations for overdue snowmobilers. Trip plans are in integral part of those searches resulting in a happy ending. “If you do not provide us with that plan and you’ve been gone for 36 hours and you’re in Aroostook County, you could be pretty much anywhere.”There’s around 14,000 miles of groomed trails in Maine for folks to enjoy. The Maine Warden Service is hoping everyone heeds their advice and enjoys them safely.For more safety tips: