Warning: Thin ice is dangerous

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 12/15/99.

The Stearns County Sheriff's Department and the Department of Natural Resources are warning people to use caution when venturing out on ice covered lakes and rivers.

The ice fishing season opened on Dec. 1, but due to unseasonably warm temperatures in November and so far in December, all lakes and rivers have yet to form safe ice.

DNR officer Chuck Nelson has reports of people fishing on Rice Lake already, despite the ice conditions. Lake Koronis was still open early this week. Less than two inches of ice depth is definitely unsafe and should be avoided.

"Be careful on the ice," warned Nelson. Even if you think it's solid in one spot, he noted that "ice never freezes to the same depth." Areas of ice near flowing water are danger spots due to varying thicknesses of the ice.

The DNR recommends four inches of ice before people walk on it. Five inches are needed for a snowmobile or ATV, eight to 12 inches for a car or pickup, and 12 to 15 for a medium size truck.

"If we do get some snow (this week)," Nelson continued, don't take (snowmobiles) on the lakes."

Nelson also said that he will be conducting an adult snowmobile training course sometime in January. By law, snowmobile operators under 20 years of age must possess either a valid snowmobile safety certificate, a driver's license, or an identification card with a valid snowmobile qualification.

The certificate or qualification indicator may be issued only upon successful completion of an authorized safety course.

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