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Archive | January, 2017

Forest Hills Central and Midland Chemic Clash Invite

Red Hawk senior Patrick Fliearman at 125 lbs with a victory over Talan Cole of Midland. Photo by B. Chong.

Red Hawk senior Patrick Fliearman at 125 lbs with a victory over Talan Cole of Midland. Photo by B. Chong.

By Barbra Chong

On Friday, January 20, the Cedar Springs High School wrestling team traveled to Forest Hills Central for an OK White Conference Dual. The Red Hawks claimed a victory with a final score of 43-28. Winning their matches to contribute to the win was 119 lb Logan Hull; 125 lb Aaron Smith; 135 lb Jordan Ringler; 140 lb Jacob Galinis; 145 lb Lucus Pienton; 171 lb Ryan Ringler; Heavy Weight Patrick Depiazza; and 112 lb Nathan Male.

On Saturday, January 21, the Red Hawks traveled to Midland for their Chemic Clash Invite with six teams competing. The first opponent of the day was Anchor Bay, and the Red Hawks lost, 24-40. The Red Hawks rallied to secure a win against Freeland, 57-15 and continued the winning streak against Mott, 66-16. Gaylord was the next opponent and it ended with a loss, 30-47. The Red Hawks ended the day against Midland with a win and final score of 42-26.

The final team standings were Anchor Bay with the Championship, Gaylord in 2nd Place, Cedar Springs with 3rd Place and Midland in 4th Place.

Individual records are as follows: 171/189 lb Ryan Ringler, Heavy Weight Patrick Depiazza and 135/140 lb Jordan Ringler went undefeated, 5-0 for the day. Also undefeated for the day are 125/130 lb Aaron Smith, 4-0 and 125 lb Patrick Fliearman, 3-0. 215 lb Chris Shaffer, 119 lb Logan Hull, 140/145 lb Jacob Galinis and 145/152 lb Lucus Pienton secured 3 wins each. 112 lb Nathan Male, 130/135 lb Jordan Andrus, 152/160 lb Zak Schmid and 160/171 lb Xavier Anderson secured 2 wins each and 189 lb Nate Patin secured a win.

“With the post season rapidly approaching, we are seeing some of the boys begin to peak at the right time. February 2017 should be a very exciting time for Cedar Springs Varsity Wrestling,” said Head Coach Nick Emery.

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Cheer teams continue to finish in top spots

The Cedar Springs Varsity Competitive Cheer team at West Catholic High School.

The Cedar Springs Varsity Competitive Cheer team at West Catholic High School.

The Cedar Springs JV Competitive Cheer team at Comstock Park.

The Cedar Springs JV Competitive Cheer team at Comstock Park.

On Monday, January 16, the Cedar Springs Competitive Cheer teams traveled to Comstock Park for another Comstock Park Invitational.

Two teams competed at the JV level. With an unexpected absence from the team, coach Katy Hradsky had to quickly change and rework all three rounds.

In round 1, Cedar Springs JV took the mat and earned a score of 188.6. After round 2 they scored an additional 157.2, bringing their subtotal to 345.8. Round 3 gained them an additional 229.2, giving them a final score of 575 and a second place finish.

Four teams competed at the Varsity level.

After round 1 was complete, Cedar Springs Varsity received a score of 221.2. Round 2 gained them an additional 216.58, brining their subtotal to 437.78. Round 3 gained them 285.2, giving them a final score of 722.98 and another first place finish.

On, Friday, January 20, Cedar Springs JV & Varsity traveled to West Catholic High School for the WCHS Competitive Cheer Invitational. There were 16 high school teams competing, three at the JV level, and four D2 teams competing with our Varsity girls.

Cedar Springs JV took the lead in round 1 with a score of 184.90. Round 2 gained them another 158.72. After a 10-point deduction, they had a subtotal score of 333.62 and a 30 point lead going into round 3. The completion of round 3 gained an additional 234.2 points and secured their first place finish with a final score of 567.82 Cedar Springs Varsity ended round 1 with a score of 217.6 and third place at the start of competition, with only a three-point difference between 1st and 3rd place.

Round 2 gained them 213.86 points and brought them to a subtotal score of 431.46, which moved them to second place with more than a 20-point lead.

The completion of round 3 gained an additional 274.6 and a final score of 706.06 and a second place finish.

Wednesday Cedar Springs will host the next Conference meet. Conference meets are what helps move the girls beyond the regular season and on to districts, regionals, and state competition.

On Saturday January 28, Cedar Springs JV and Varsity will travel to East Kentwood High School for the LMCOAA Competition.

Come out and support these ladies and show your Red Hawk pride, as they work hard to represent their coaches and school.

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WMP wrestlers bring home medals

West Michigan Pursuit wrestler Isaiah Sostenes was a champion in the 75 lb 9/10 age group at Alma last weekend. Photo by B. Chong.

West Michigan Pursuit wrestler Isaiah Sostenes was a champion in the 75 lb 9/10 age group at Alma last weekend. Photo by B. Chong.

By Barbra Chong

West Michigan Pursuit traveled to Lowell and Alma this past weekend. WMP had 3 grapplers enter to compete. Aiden Dowdell took second place in the 155 lb, 13/15 age group; and Selina Stalker finished in third in the 61 lb, 4/6 age group.

The Alma panthers hosted a monster trophy tournament where 13 WMP grapplers entered to compete, placing 11 in the top 4. In fourth place was 52 lb Desmond Smith, 4/6 age group; in third place was 59 lb Landon Foss, 9/10 age group and 72 lb Tyler Parmeter, 7/8 age group. In second place was 67 lb Luke Egan, 9/10 age group; 52 lb Kaleb Pautke, 7/8 age group, 80 lb Blake Peasley, 9/10 age group and 59 lb Josh Vasquez, 9/10 age group.

Champions of the day were 64 lb Quinten Cassiday, 7/8 age group; 67 lb Chayson Eberspeaker, 7/8 age group; 61 lb Drew Moro, 7/8 age group and 75 lb Isaiah Sostenes, 9/10 age group.

“Judging by the caliber of competition at this tournament, it gives me a great perspective of where we stand within the West Region. I am very proud of the kids who wrestle under me,” said Head Coach Dave Andrus.

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CS Youth wrestlers take top spots

CS Youth wrestlers finished in top spots at the Lowell Open and Novice tournament last weeend. Photo by J. Troupe.

CS Youth wrestlers finished in top spots at the Lowell Open and Novice tournament last weeend. Photo by J. Troupe.

By Jacquie Troupe

On Sunday, January 23, CSYWC joined 66 other teams to participate in the West Region’s Lowell Open & Novice Tournament. Twenty-nine CS Youth Wrestlers competed with 530 others to take the top spots in 101 classes. The team had 58 wins and 43 losses. The team came in 2nd in match points with 395, took 2nd place with number of pins/techs in shortest amount of time with 36 in 66:52.

“It is fantastic to see the improvement the wrestlers are making every week. Every wrestler remembers their first pin,” said Coach Bryan Goike.

Dawson Pike tied Colten Jackson from Saranac WC for 1st over all with fastest pin in :09. Thomas Prins had his very first pin in :34. Ricco Artecki had his very first pin in 2:26. William Dickinson came in 4th over all with :14. Carter Falan came in 12th with :22. Tommy Stevens tied for 21st with :31. Deegan Pike & Thomas Prins tied for 24th with :34.

Carter Falan had the fastest total pins for the team and came in 2nd over all with 4 in 4:12. Trevor Marsman took 1st over all in fastest techs with 2 in 6:24. William Dickinson came in 12th over all with 3 in 2:48. Tucker Crystal came in 27th over all with 3 in 5:22. Dakota Winchel came in 38th over all with 3 in 9:45. Tommy Stevens came in 61st over all with 2 in 1:37. Daniel Vaughn came in 88th over all with 2 in 3:12.

Trevor Marsman led the team in match points with 40 total (10th over all.) Dawson Pike & Wyatt Dickinson had 32, Hudson Crystal had 30, Blake Falan had 27, Deegan Pike had 26, Elijah Artecki had 21, Tucker Crystal had 20, Logan Troupe had 19, Gavyn Byxbe had 18, Carter Falan had 17, Jayden Mull & Daniel Vaughn had 14, William Dickinson had 12, Dakota Winchel had 11.

In the 2010-2012 Open division, 43lb-B class Dawson Pike placed 2nd after 4 matches, Wyatt Dickinson placed 4th after 4 matches. In the 52lb class Tucker Crystal placed 1st after 3 matches. In the combined 58/61lb class, Chasyn Winchel placed 2nd after 3 matches.

In the 2008-2009 Novice division, 52lb-B class Cade Troupe placed 3rd after 4 matches. In the 58lb-B class, Deegan Pike placed 2nd after 4 matches. In the 61lb-B class, William Dickinson placed 3rd after 5 matches. In the Open division, 64lb class Blake Falan placed 3rd after 4 matches. In the Open division, 72lb class Jonathan Libera placed 2nd after 2 matches.

In The 2006-2007 Novice division, 100lb class Elijah Artecki placed 3rd after 3 matches. In the 110lb class, Dakota Winchel placed 1st after 3 matches. In the Open division, 80lb class Hudson Crystal placed 1st after 4 matches. In the Open division, 100/110lb combined class Matthew Vaughn placed 2nd after 2 matches. In the Open division, 150/HWT combined class Wyatt Cooper placed 1st after 2 matches.

In the 2004-2005 Open division, 80lb class Tommy Stevens placed 2nd after 3 matches. In the 100lb class Logan Troupe placed 2nd after 5 matches. In the 105/112lb combined class Carter Falan placed 1st after 5 matches.

In the 2002-2003 Open division, in the 85/90lb combined class Trevor Marsman placed 1st after 3 matches. In the 95lb class Andrew VanGessel placed 3rd after 2 matches. In the 130lb class Daniel Vaughn placed 4th after 4 matches.

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Registration open for winter state games

 

Four new sports added 

The fourth annual Meijer State Games of Michigan Winter Games are quickly approaching. Over 2,000 athletes will be competing in 20 different sports throughout January and February. Registration for the 2017 Winter Games is now open. The main weekend for competition is February 17-19, with events on January 29 and February 4-5. For the 2017 games, four new sports have been added to the competition including: Swimming (Postal Meet), Futsal, Shooting Sports- Sporting Clays, and the Winter Try-Athlon (Cross Country Skiing, Luge, and Speed Skating).

Swimming (Postal Meet) competitors swim at their local pool and mail in their split sheet. Athletes will swim as far as they can for one hour. They can choose to participate in the individual race, relay race, small team, or large team race.

Futsal is similar to indoor soccer played on a basketball court. It is played with five players on each side. This sport is fast-paced and requires technical skill and concentration from the athletes.

Sporting Clays, traditionally a Summer Games sport, makes its first appearance in the Winter Games. Athletes taking part in this sport will be shooting 100 birds and need to come prepared with their own shooting equipment and protective gear.

The Winter Try-Athlon includes cross country skiing, luge and speed skating. It is a competition and learning opportunity with clinics available for each sport. Individuals who have little or no background in one or all of the three events are encouraged to register.

Registration continues to be available online for all sports. The sports line up for the fourth annual Meijer State Games of Michigan Winter Games scheduled events include Archery—Indoor, Basketball, BMX—Indoor, Bowling, Cross Country Skiing, Darts, Disc Golf, Fatbike, Fencing (including a wheelchair division), Fencing, Futsal, Karate, Racquetball, Rowing—Virtual, Ski/Snowboard, Shooting Sports (Pistol and Sporting Clays), Snowball Softball, Swimming (Postal Meet), Winter Try-Athlon, and Wrestling.

For a complete listing of all the sports included in the 2017 Winter Games and how to register, please visit www.stategamesofmichigan.com/wintergamesregistration.

In 2016, the Meijer State Games of Michigan Winter Games offered 20 sports, bringing more than 2,000 athletes from 25 Michigan counties to West Michigan. Meijer State Games of Michigan Winter Games participants and visitors contributed more than $500,000 in direct visitor spending that benefited West Michigan area hotels and local businesses.

Volunteers are still needed. Volunteer opportunities include assisting with

operations, registration, meal delivery, and more. Visit our volunteer page (www.stategamesofmichigan.com/volunteer).

Modeled after the Olympics, the Meijer State Games of Michigan welcomes athletes regardless of age or ability level, and embodies the values of participation, sportsmanship and healthy living among residents

of Michigan. In August 2017, the Meijer State Games of Michigan will play host to the 2017 State Games of America.

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Four tax changes that could impact your 2016 return

TAX-Four-tax-changes

(BPT) – With tax filing season upon us, it’s a good idea to educate yourself on what’s changed since last year. While it’s been a relatively quiet year in terms of new tax laws, there are a handful of items for which you’ll want to prepare.

1. The Tax Deadline is April 18.

This year, the deadline to file returns is Tuesday, April 18, 2017, rather than the traditional April 15 date. That’s because the April 15 falls on a Saturday and Emancipation Day, the anniversary of the abolition of slavery, is recognized on Monday, April 17, 2017 and is a holiday in the District of Columbia. For tax-filing purposes, the IRS treats this day as a federal holiday.

2. Delayed refunds for some early filers.

If you claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) this year, you’ll have to wait until after mid-February to get your refund. The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, passed in late 2015, says the IRS cannot issue credits or refunds for an overpayment before Feb. 15, 2017 to any filer who claims the EITC or ACTC.

The delay gives the IRS more time to review income tax returns – and prevent the agency from inadvertently processing fraudulent returns. Fraudsters file bogus returns before the actual filer can complete their taxes and often claim credits like the EITC and ACTC.

Both the EITC and ACTC are refundable tax credits. That means they are beneficial even after reducing your tax liability to zero. If the amount of these credits is more than the amount of taxes due, you’ll get the difference back as a refund. Savvy criminals know this – and input numbers to make it look like they should get more money back.

If you don’t file either of these credits, the IRS says your refund will likely get processed in the typical time frame of 21 days.

3. Don’t be surprised if your state asks for your driver’s license number or state ID.

Depending on the state in which you live, you may be asked to provide your driver’s license number (DLN) or state ID number when you file your 2016 state return. This is part of a broad effort by the IRS, states and the entire tax industry to lessen the risk of tax-related identity theft. Identity thieves may have personal information such as your name and Social Security number, but not your DLN. The additional information helps states verify you are who you say you are.

“Some states, such as Alabama, will ask taxpayers who e-file to provide both the DLN as well as date of issue, expiration number and issuing state,” says Mark Jaeger, director of Tax Development for TaxAct. “If you use a DIY tax solution like TaxAct, you’ll be prompted to enter the information required by your state as you prepare your return.”

Implementing additional identity verification measures, such as requesting a filer’s DLN and related information, can help curtail the number of fraudulent returns states process this year. The IRS now requests this information, but it is not required to electronically file a federal return.

4. Affordable Care Act (ACA) forms may be late this year, but don’t wait to file your return.

By now, you’re probably accustomed to receiving ACA-related forms reporting whether you and members of your household met health insurance coverage requirements established by the ACA for the prior year. What’s new this year is when you’ll receive some of those forms.

The deadline for companies and insurers to issue Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to individuals has been delayed this year. Employers and insurance providers must mail your forms by March 2, 2017, considerably later than the original Jan. 31 deadline.

“Remember, you don’t need to file these forms with your return,” Jaeger says. “However, the forms can be helpful in identifying coverage months if the entire tax household did not have full-year health insurance coverage. Once you receive the applicable form, keep it with your other tax documents. The IRS gets their own copy so you don’t need to attach it to your return.”

Keep up to date with a little help from your friends.

Staying abreast of tax changes before you file your return can be tough. Fortunately, taxpayers can turn to a number of resources, including TaxAct, for help.

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Who will prepare your tax return? 

 

The Internal Revenue Service is reminding taxpayers to start thinking about who will prepare their 2016 federal tax return. The IRS began processing tax returns on Monday, January 23.

In 2016, more than 131 million individual and family tax returns were e-filed, the most accurate, safest and easiest way to file. The rest of the returns received by the IRS, numbering over 19 million, were either prepared on a computer and printed or prepared by hand then mailed.

The IRS stresses that no matter who prepares it, by signing the return, the taxpayer becomes legally responsible for the accuracy of all information included.

Free Tax Preparation 

Each year, millions of tax returns are prepared for free by taxpayers using IRS Free File or by volunteers at community organization sites nationwide.

IRS Free File lets taxpayers who earned less than $64,000 prepare and e-file a return for free. Go to IRS.gov and click on the ‘Filing’ tab for options on using commercial tax software. Those who earned more than $64,000 are still eligible for Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms. This more basic Free File option is best for people who are comfortable preparing their own tax returns.

IRS trained and certified volunteers at thousands of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (VITA and TCE) sites nationwide offer free tax preparation and e-filing.

VITA offers free tax return preparation to taxpayers who earn $54,000 or less. The TCE program is mainly for people age 60 or older and focuses on tax issues unique to seniors. AARP participates in the TCE program and helps taxpayers with low to moderate incomes.

To find the closest VITA site, visit IRS.gov and search the word “VITA.” Or download the IRS2Go app on a smart phone. Site information is also available by calling the IRS at 800-906-9887.

To locate the nearest AARP Tax-Aide site, visit aarp.org, or call 888-227-7669. There are also VITA and TCE sites that provide bilingual help for taxpayers who have limited English skills.

Many taxpayers pay for tax return preparation. By law, all paid tax preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number, or PTIN. Paid preparers must sign the return and include their PTIN. The IRS offers tips to help taxpayers choose a tax return preparer wisely. The Choosing a Tax Professional page has information about tax preparer credentials and qualifications. The IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications can help identify many preparers in your locality by type of credential or qualification.

The IRS urges taxpayers to avoid fly-by-night preparers who may not be available after this year’s April 18 due date or base fees on a percentage of the refund. The IRS also reminds taxpayers that a new law requires all refunds on returns that claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) be held until Feb. 15. This change helps the IRS detect and prevent fraud.

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Resolutions on the road: Cruising into 2017 with plans for better car care

CAR-Resolutions

(BPT) – Every new year brings a flurry of resolutions, and Hankook Tire checked out the road-related improvements Americans resolve to make happen in 2017. Whether you’re looking to save money or are determined to make that cross-country road trip a reality, the Hankook Tire Gauge Index found Americans are looking to take the well-oiled wheel of 2017 with better car care.

Under pressure

According to the Hankook Tire Gauge Index, over half (57 percent) of Americans are determined to keep their car cleaner in 2017. Additionally, 35 percent resolve to check the air in their tires more frequently, and doing so can have a significant effect on overall driver safety. Did you know it is recommended to check the air in your tires once a month? Be sure to check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the recommended tire pressure for your car, truck or SUV.

Resolve to rotate

When the snow just won’t stop falling and the trees look a little too bare, sometimes it’s all too easy to daydream about escaping to a tropical island for a while. Most Americans agree, as 84 percent would rather drive to a sunny beach than to a ski resort in the winter months. For those who can’t escape the elements, it is more important than ever to make sure your tires are rotated as you navigate the winter roads. A good tip is to rotate your tires when you check your oil – and since nearly a quarter of drivers (22 percent) resolve to change the oil more frequently in 2017, it looks like America is already on the road to good car maintenance.

Keep on commuting

We might all begrudge our daily commute, but considering 61 percent of Americans drive every day, it doesn’t look like many of us are resolving to change it. However, there better be light on the roads during the daily drive. Whether drivers are scared of the dark or not, 48 percent of Americans adjust their commute to avoid driving once the sun sets.

New year, new tires

Nearly one in four Americans (24 percent) will resolve to get new tires in 2017. While shopping for those, 73 percent note they look for tires with good traction or grip. An all-season, high performance tire like the Ventus s1 noble 2 from Hankook offers solid handling throughout the year.

Whether you’re already hunting for new tires for the new year, it might be a good idea to do “the penny test” and check your tread. Take a penny and insert it between the tread of the tire, with Lincoln’s head facing down. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time for new tires. After all, you don’t want to end up stuck by side of the road, but if you do, there’s a good chance someone will pull over and help you. More than half (56 percent) of those surveyed said they have helped someone who was pulled over with car trouble. That’s definitely one way to get some good karma heading into the new year.

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Staying safe on winter roads

CAR-Staying-safe

(BPT) – For those who live in snow-belt states, winter driving can be especially challenging.

Snow (and related weather events, like frost, sleet and freezing rain) can significantly reduce the friction of the road surface, and slippery roads are significantly more dangerous than dry roads. You are about 50 percent more likely to have a crash on a road under winter driving conditions than on the same road under dry conditions, according to a variety of studies.

States, cities and local agencies use many available tools to take care of our roads and address the negative consequences of winter weather. By plowing snow and using road salt in a safe and sustainable manner, road agencies can reduce accidents on roads under winter driving conditions by as much as 88 percent and can reduce injuries in those crashes by 85 percent, according to a study by Marquette University. Those are significant improvements in safety.

The importance of salt on our roads

The key is in recognizing how road salt works. The purpose of the road salt is not to melt the snow, but rather to stop the snow from freezing to the pavement. If that goal is achieved, then plowing the snow off the road is simple and extremely effective, and it turns out that preventing that bond does not take much salt. The exact amount depends on a variety of factors (example – the colder the road surface, the more salt is needed) and will be different for every storm.

Getting the road salt to the right place means having plow trucks deployed at the correct time, and in order to keep the road salt on the road surface (rather than bouncing off or being swept into a ditch) agencies pre-wet the road salt with salt brine.

In addition to enhancing the safety of our roads in winter conditions, those snow plows are doing a lot to improve mobility. These “snowfighters” reduce weather-caused delays and congestion, allowing for emergency vehicles to respond more quickly when people need help, making for shorter travel times for families, allowing kids and parents to get to school and jobs safely and on time.

In fact, a study by IHS Global Insight for the American Highway Users Alliance found snow- and ice-related delays and shutdowns hurt hourly workers the most. This study also placed a monetary value on fast and effective snow removal and salting. According to the researchers, a state can incur economic losses of between $300 million and $700 million every day that roads are closed and impassable. Those snow plows are not just helping keep families together and safe, they are helping to keep the lifeblood of our commerce pumping during winter storms.

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State is home to thousands of miles of trails, great riding opportunities

A rider heads out on a trail, having just made a highway crossing. Michigan has more than 6,000 miles of snowmobile trails to enjoy.

A rider heads out on a trail, having just made a highway crossing. Michigan has more than 6,000 miles of snowmobile trails to enjoy.

Ask snowmobilers around the country about the best places to ride a sled, and the Great Lakes State is sure to come up in conversation.

Michigan is known by snowmobilers nationally for its unique combination of abundant and dependable snow, exciting terrain and an extensive network of nearly 6,500 miles of designated snowmobile trails.

American Snowmobiler magazine recently featured Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula on the top of its list of “25 Epic Snowmobiling Destinations.”

“The area’s location by Lake Superior guarantees plenty of lake-effect snow each winter. This natural phenomenon coupled with state-of-the-art grooming equipment makes the western U.P. a premier destination in the Midwest,” the magazine said. “As you travel over 2,000 miles of trails you can see Lake Superior ice caverns, scenic overlooks, frozen waterfalls and abandoned railroad beds that lead you over majestically high trestle bridges.”

Michigan’s snowmobile trails are among the finest anywhere.

Michigan’s snowmobile trails are among the finest anywhere.

Over the past several years, SnowGoer magazine has named the Upper Peninsula the best overall snowmobiling area, as well as the area with the most scenic snowmobiling and the best trail riding.

“If you close your eyes and imagine perfect riding, what do you see? Do you visualize trails weaving through the forest? Do you see hotels with more snowmobiles than cars in the parking lot?” said an excerpt from SnowGoer. “Well, welcome to the best all-around snowmobile spots in North America. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan, with an average snowfall of 60 to over 200 inches, offers plenty of snowmobiling amid spectacular natural beauty.”

As these national publications have recognized, Michigan’s draw for snowmobilers, besides the plentiful snow and vast trail network, is the unique opportunity for sightseeing along the way – and a great deal of those sights to see are located in Michigan’s state parks.

“A lot of snowmobilers visit places like the Lake of the Clouds in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Indian Lake State Park and Tahquamenon Falls State Park,” said Ron Yesney, U.P. trails coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “Bond Falls and Brockway Mountain are other popular sightseeing destinations as well.”

The U.P. has about 3,300 miles of state snowmobile trails, which connect communities, provide access to beautiful scenery and draw riders from near and far.

“We really have an outstanding snowmobile system in the U.P., that’s very accessible and links you to snowmobile-friendly towns,” said Rob Katona, DNR central U.P. trail specialist.

The northern Lower Peninsula also is a popular snowmobiling destination.

The new, highly anticipated Snowmobile Trail No. 37 in Wexford and Manistee counties recently opened for the 2016-17 snowmobile season. The 16.5-mile trail, which runs from Yuma to Copemish, connects the trail systems near Cadillac to trails north in Benzie, Manistee and Leelanau counties.

“This new connector trail will greatly enhance snowmobiling opportunities in the northwest Lower Peninsula, as well as increase tourism in towns such as Mesick and Copemish,” said Todd Neiss, a DNR recreation specialist who works out of the Cadillac office.

Another northern Michigan snowmobiling hotspot is the Gaylord area, which,  according to American Snowmobiler, “offers great winter fun with rolling hills, thousands of acres of unspoiled forests and reliable snowfall.

“Sledders are welcomed by local businesses and you can ride your machine right up to your door and back out onto the trail. Plus there are many trail connectors for uninterrupted travel.”

The magazine calls the trail from Gaylord to Indian River “the crown jewel of snowmobile trails in northern Michigan. The trail runs along an abandoned railroad corridor, crosses the Sturgeon River and winds through some of the most spectacular scenery in northern Michigan.”

While the focus tends to be on the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula when it comes to snowmobiling, there are plenty of opportunities to ride in southwestern Michigan as well, with about 700 miles of sled trails.

“There are a lot of trails in southwest Michigan that are close to population centers that many folks don’t even think about. Many of these trails go through DNR lands, and can be very scenic,” Neiss said. “While snow conditions are much more temperamental in southwest Michigan than in the north, if you catch it right, there is no need to drive hundreds of miles to ride.”

There are snowmobiling trails on National Forest lands too, which riders often use along with state trail routes.

“There are 1,157 miles of designated snowmobile trails on National Forest system lands. The U.S. Forest Service and Michigan DNR work together with club sponsors to ensure these trails are maintained,” said Kristen Thrall, recreation and hydropower program manager and forest accessibility coordinator for the Huron-Manistee National Forests. “We have worked together since the 1970s to develop a high-quality long-distance system that connects communities to the great outdoors.”

According to a 2012 National Visitor Use Monitoring Study, 27 percent of people recreating in the national forests identify snowmobiling as their primary activity.

There is plenty of information available on the DNR website to help plan a snowmobiling adventure, including trail maps in a variety of formats and links to trail reports from organizations like the Michigan Snowmobile Association.

Snowmobilers need to purchase a snowmobile trail permit, which is required to operate snowmobiles in Michigan and is valid for one year, from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. Riders also need to register their snowmobile, as a valid registration from the Secretary of State (or another state or province) is required to ride as well.

Those new to snowmobiling who would like to try out this fun winter experience should consider rental snowmobiles that are available.

This week (Jan. 21-29) is International Snowmobile Safety Week, a great time to brush up on how to stay safe while out on the trail.

“Safety is the most important aspect of this sport,” said Lt. Pete Wright, a DNR district law supervisor. “Safe snowmobiling means riding within your own capabilities, operating at safe and appropriate speeds for the terrain, and never drinking alcohol before or while driving. Always wear a helmet and adequate clothing, stay on the designated trails, and always snowmobile with another person, never alone.”

Other safety tips from the DNR include:

  • Always keep your machine in top mechanical condition.
  • Pick safe places to stop off the trail.
  • Be aware of changing trail conditions.
  • Use extra caution when riding on an unfamiliar trail.
  • Stay far enough behind other riders to avoid the snow kicked up by their machines. This flying snow may blind snowmobilers to hazards, including other riders.
  • Check the weather conditions before you depart.
  • When possible, avoid crossing frozen bodies of water. Never operate in a single file when crossing frozen bodies of water.
  • Always be alert to avoid fences and low-strung wires.
  • Never operate on a street or highway.
  • Always look for depressions in the snow.
  • Keep headlights and tail lights on at all times.
  • When approaching an intersection, come to a complete stop, raise off the seat and look both ways for traffic.
  • Steer clear of trail groomers if you can. Never follow a groomer, give groomers the right of way, and if you meet one head-on, give it room to maneuver.

Snowmobilers also should make sure they are familiar with all of the rules and regulations for snowmobiling in Michigan, as well as the universal snowmobile trail signage the DNR developed to help keep everyone safe on the trails.

Snowmobile safety education training and online safety courses are recommended for all snowmobile operators and are required for youth 12 to 16 years old.

In 2016, Michigan had more than 200,000 registered snowmobiles – only Minnesota and Wisconsin had more, according to a report from the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association.

The same report indicates that, in the United States, snowmobiling has an economic impact of $26 billion annually and that the average rider spends $4,000 each year on snowmobile-related recreation.

It’s clear that snowmobiling contributes significantly to Michigan’s tourism industry and the state’s economy.

“I snowmobile quite a bit and meet all kinds of wonderful people out being safe on the trails, spending money, and enjoying the U.P.,” Yesney said.

Snowmobiling is a social sport, with clubs throughout the state. The Michigan Snowmobiling Association maintains a list of clubs at www.msasnow.org/snowmobile-clubs.

Learn more about snowmobiling in Michigan at michigan.gov/snowmobiling.

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