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Aaron Gross

Colonel Aaron Gross

Director, Massachusetts Environmental Police

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Winter is a wonderful time to be outdoors with an abundance of activities to choose from. Whether it be hunting, fishing, all-terrain vehicle (ATV) riding, snowmobiling or just taking in the scenery, it can be a fun time of the year.

Snowmobiling on Mt. Greylock

For your safety, our officers are outdoors each season throughout Massachusetts using four-by-four vehicles, ATVs and snowmobiles to patrol off-road areas, and operating a fleet of more than 50 vessels to patrol coastal and inland waters.

Year after year, we see tragic snowmobile accidents. As Colonel of the Massachusetts Environmental Police – the primary enforcement agency for state recreational vehicles and boating laws – I am urging snowmobilers and ATV users to be cautious, obey the law and use common sense while enjoying the winter weather.

As recreational vehicles begin to flock to snow-covered landscapes, keep in mind the Environmental Police safety guidelines designed to safeguard snowmobile and ATV users, private property owners, and the state’s natural resources.

Here are some safety tips I’d recommend:

***Wear a U.S. Dept. of Transportation-approved helmet.

***Ride at reasonable speeds for existing conditions and be especially cautious when operating at night.

***Check frozen ponds and rivers before going onto the ice – be aware of soft spots in places where there are currents or natural springs below the ice, and exercise extra caution when temperatures creep above 32 degrees F.

***Dress in layers, including waterproof outerwear.

I also recommend joining an organized club to discover local areas where snowmobiles and ATVs are permitted. Remember, it is illegal to drive ATVs and snowmobiles after consuming alcoholic beverages.

According to Massachusetts Law, snowmobile operators must be over 14 years of age. Children between the ages of 12 and 14 can operate while being directly supervised by an adult over the age of 18. Be aware that state law also requires operators to obtain landowners’ permission before riding on private property, and prohibits operation of ATVs and snowmobiles on public roads or within 150 feet of a home.

Like all outdoor enthusiasts, I urge recreational vehicle operators to respect the state’s natural resources by taking care to avoid damaging trees, underbrush and other landscape features.

Again, I encourage you to enjoy the wonders of nature at its best, be safe.

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