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The sweep of white conditions doesn't mean winter sports like snowmobiling are back in session just because Minnesota surpassed its average March snowfall (8.2 inches) — and in some places substantially so — over a few days.

A segment of Minnesotans has wondered, with state conservation officers (CO) in parts of the north and the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association (MnUSA) fielding calls and contacts from snowmobilers about perhaps salvaging their seasons with 11th-hour rides.

The more than 20,000 miles of trails maintained and groomed by local clubs across Minnesota are closed beginning April 1. Several state trails and a few forests remain open but the conditions are fair to poor. Both COs and MnUSA emphasize caution.

Capt. Jon Paurus of the Department of Natural Resources reminded the public that areas that cross water or skirt normally wet areas might not be frozen despite appearances. Light snow could also cover hazards in places like ditches that under normal conditions are otherwise safer.

Suddenly heavy snow doesn't equate to snowpack, meaning an aggressive sled track could easily damage unfrozen terrain, undermining the work and mission of groups like MnUSA, said one of the group's leaders. MnUSA has 283 volunteer clubs across the state. The miles of trails they work include private land.

"We don't want to upset these [landowners] who we graciously thank every year, allowing us to go on their property," said director at-large Scott Wakefield.

He said the topic of extended-season rides circulates even in solid years — like this time last year, when many trails still were in good shape — but the official last day remains March 31.

"We are saying, stay off the trails," Wakefield said, adding there is no expectation of any grooming happening between now and Sunday despite conditions. In fact, some clubs in southern Minnesota, where farmers are working their property, have taken down trail signs to signal the season is over.

"We're talking about safety here. That's our No. 1 priority in MnUSA. [A snowmobiler] needs to take on some personal responsibility," he added.

Anticipation and interest were high ahead of this season, but Wakefield said there was no upside to Minnesota's nonwinter. The loss is acute after such a dynamic 2022-23 season and its record state snowfall in November and December. Some big fundraising events like MnUSA's Winter Rendezvous in February in Ottertail still occurred but hours of preseason trail work, for one, were unredeemed.

"[The season] was just a flop," he said.