Signs use GPS to guide trail riders

January 11, 2016

Eric Peterson

Fox 11 News

OCONTO COUNTY — It won't be long until snowmobilers will be taking to the trails across the Northwoods.

A new system of marking those trails is designed to make the outing safer.

Hundreds of miles of snowmobile, and ATV trails snake their way through Oconto County. Trail leaders say if there is trouble, new brown signs could help lead the way.

"What we came up with was a three-digit number, which would be this number, for the entire county," said Jim Wisneski, Hidden Bear Trail ATV Club.

Wisneski says 250 signs will be installed across the county, and will compliment those signs and maps snowmobilers, and ATV riders already use.

"What we wanted to do is try to get the intersection, or locator numbers the same on both sets of maps, so people won't be confused when they're out riding," he said.

The trail locator signs display GPS coordinates to guide those on the ground.

"There's a lot of woods up in this part of the county, and a lot of open farm land further south. So if somebody gets in trouble, they really need to know where they are," said John Brantmeier, Oconto County Snowmobile Alliance. .

And if you find yourself in an emergency, and can't make it out of the woods on your own, first responders can use information on the signs to find you.

"A lot of our calls we get dispatched to is, they left this place and now they're headed to this place, or somewhere in between, and then crossed the highway," said Charlie Anderson, Mountain Ambulance Service.

Anderson says the Mountain Ambulance Service responds to about 250 calls each year. About 20 are rescue calls from the woods or trails in the area.

He says the signs are a step in the right direction.

"Our crews can get out there faster, get them out of the elements, and where they need to go," said Anderson.

Signs are up in the northern part of the county. The rest are expected to be installed by the time the snowmobile season starts.

"The next seven days, doesn't look like any snow. It doesn't look like snowmobile season is going to open real early this year, but hopefully by Christmas," said Wisneski.

The cost of the project is about $4,000.

Snowmobile clubs and Oconto County are sharing that total.

Improvements are already in-the-works.

Advertising could be added to guide trail users to businesses in the area as well.

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