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The snowstorm overnight has prompted the opening of Dane County's snowmobile trails at noon Friday, the first time the trails have been open this winter.

There are about 500 miles of snowmobile trails in the county, the majority on private land, but also including several state recreation trails.

"We want to remind riders to use caution as there will likely be uneven terrain, snow-covered icy sections and the potential for open water in the marshes and waterways," said Mark Stephens, president of the Dane County Council of Snowmobile Clubs.

For trails to open, six inches of snow or more needs to be on the routes, and steady below freezing temperatures so the snow doesn't melt.

Snowmobiles also need a state snowmobile trail pass to use the county's trails.

"The majority of snowmobile trails are located on private land," said Sheriff's Office sergeant Tom Sankey. "Users must stay on the designated marked trails."

Trail riders can contact Dane County Parks, 224-3730, to see if there are any safety concerns on parts of trails.

Other southern Wisconsin counties, including Jefferson County are opening snowmobile trails Friday, so check with your local snowmobile club to see if trails near you are open.

Bill Novak is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.