MORRISONVILLE - Robert Robare has been teaching snowmobile safety courses offered by the state Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation for more than 30 years and what he wants most of all is for people to be safe when heading out for a leisurely ride on the trails.
"Before you ride, there's a lot of things you need to know," said Robare. "That's what we talk about with the course. It's a safety program where we talk about everything from A to Z."
The state-certified course goes over the history of snowmobiling and how it's changed over the years, said Robare. The background on the sport, he added, gives context to how people are able to enjoy riding today, and underscores how safety measures and laws have been put in place to keep people out of harm's way.
"We talk about how snowmobiling started out with an old Model T with skis on it, then we talk about what are the laws - what you can and can't do, where you can ride and where you can't ride and so forth," explained Robare. "There's some that take even the adults by surprise."
One of the main ways to stay safe on your snowmobile, said Robare, is knowing your machine before you even get on it.
"We talk about knowing how to maintain your snowmobile and about preparing it for the season," he said. "We talk about properly starting your snowmobile and all the things you need to do before you even ride."
That includes even preparing oneself for harsh riding conditions like below-freezing temperatures and harsh winter winds.
"We talk about how to dress properly in layers and in something that's waterproof," said Robare. "We also talk about planning, like telling someone where you're going and when you're going to return."
Considering more than 80 percent of the trails in New York State traverse private property, said Robare, another thing he focuses on in his course is operator courtesy.
"Riding is a privilege," said Robare. "That's why we talk about courtesy. Sure, you can litter on these trails, but don't be surprised next year when they're closed."
Robare also emphasized New York State law requires youths between the ages of 10 and 18 must first complete a certified snowmobile safety course in order to operate a snowmobile on any property other than that owned by their parents or guardians.
"Unfortunately, a lot of people are out there breaking the law," said Robare.
The Town of Plattsburgh Recreation Department will sponsor Robare's next state-certified snowmobile safety course which will be held over two days, Monday, Dec. 27, and Friday, Dec. 31, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. both days. The course will be held at the Town of Plattsburgh Office Building, 151 Banker Road, Plattsburgh, and will be open to any Clinton County youth between ages 10 and 18, who wishes to complete the course and receive a safety certificate.
There is no fee for the course. Participants must attend both sessions.
Those wishing to take the course must register prior to Wednesday, Dec. 22, by calling the recreation department at 562-6860, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.