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Snowmobile season opens early as DNR launches revamped trail conditions site

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The flurry of snowstorms seen in recent weeks has led to Minnesota's snowmobile season opening earlier than usual.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said that snowmobilers can legally ride on the 22,000 miles of trails across the state as of Monday, but cautioned that many of them don't have enough snow yet for grooming, according to a press release.

The DNR made the announcement at the same time as it launched a revamped website providing up-to-date information on snow and trail conditions across Minnesota, MPR News reports.

The website shows that the majority of the trails are currently in poor condition, but said the 216,000-plus snowmobile owners in the state should take the opportunity to register their vehicles, inspect their equipment and plan their trips.

DNR conservation officer Adam Block told the Star Tribune that riders should also familiarize themselves with trail rules, drive sober and take care around waterways given that ice may not be particularly thick at this time of year.

WCCO reports that snowmobiling is worth $1 billion a year to the Minnesota economy, which is based on figures from the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association.

"Outdoor recreation, including winter activities, is important to Minnesota tourism," John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota, said. "Snowmobiling Minnesota's excellent trails, lakes and forests is a great way to take in beautiful winter scenery that can be found only in Minnesota."

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