Snowmobiles will stay open, after controversy - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Snowmobile trails will stay open, after controversy

 By Patrick Manning - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

ONEIDA COUNTY (WAOW) -- A legal battle nearly kept snowmobilers off some Oneida County trails this winter.  Snowmobiling is a $30 million a year industry for the Oneida County area.

 So a resolution to keep trails open is giving some relief to people who rely on it.

"I know our business here, if there is no snowmobiling, I might as well lock our doors in the winter," says Steve Moran, president of the Oneida County snowmobiling council.

Oneida County shares its trails with private landowners.

And earlier this week the county's lawyers say the contract to keep the trails open raised some red flags.

"Mainly the liabilities we thought were an issue, dealt with the county being responsible for liability that happens on the trail even when the times when snowmobilers weren't using the trail," says Oneida County attorney Brian Desmond.

Desmond says the county would be liable for any injuries on the trails. So county officials agreed to buy an insurance policy.

"The county would most likely be the party in any kind of lawsuit. Try to minimize the risks for the county.The county's lawyers say they never wanted to shut down the trails, they just wanted to make sure the county knew how they were liable," says Desmond.

The forestry department says its vital the trails stay open.

"There are several businesses where snowmobiling is the make or break issue as far as their personal income for the year and they depend on it heavily," says John Bilogan, forestry director for Oneida County.

Moran says the agreement takes some weight off the tourism industry's shoulders.

"This area is known for some of the best snowmobiling in the state, and we'd like to keep it that way," he says.

Online Reporter: Patrick Manning



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