Winter Wildlands Alliance Ramps Up Call for Snowmobile Restrictions


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | September 22, 2010      

Remember those pesky things called snowmobiles? If anything, the backcountry skiing community has a love-hate relationship with “sleds.” We love the access snowmobiles provide, and (though it is often a dark secret) many of us love the ride. But we hate it when snowmobiles bogart our pow stashes. Thing is, current USFS rules allow “over snow vehicles” (OSVs) to pretty much go where they want on non-Wilderness land. More, because the USFS has trouble with law enforcement, sleds continue to race over legal Wilderness in many places across the U.S.

Thus, conservation groups under the umbrella of Winter Wildlands Alliance have run a long lasting battle to legally exclude snowmobiles from public land. Now they’re ramping it up with a petition drive and scheduled meetings with the USFS to ask them to change their OSV rules.

While one has to wonder how the USFS is going to enforce ever more closures when they can’t even keep sleds out of the Wilderness, it is true that in some places we need some separation of uses so muscle powered “quiet” recreationists have accessible places to recreate. (legal Wilderness provides that if snowmobilers obey rules, but much of our Wilderness land has poor winter access, and most backcountry skiers like convenient trailhead access.)

That said, we need to truly be careful about dividing the pie, as he who divides traditionally gets last pick of the shares and may end up with the smallest pie slice. More, do we want the backcountry overrun with the law-enforcement personnel who become necessary as we make more and more rules? But at the same time, sure, we do need places other than legal Wilderness where we can backcountry ski without snowmobiles playing in the vicinity.

In my view, this whole issue is an ongoing dilemma with solutions that might be tougher than just drawing lines on a map. Your thoughts as winter closes in?

News report here.

Our snowmobile category here at WildSnow.

Comments

57 Responses to “Winter Wildlands Alliance Ramps Up Call for Snowmobile Restrictions”

  1. Njord September 22nd, 2010 10:28 am

    I wonder if there would be as much support for new Wilderness if BC skiing was considered mechanical (there is a hinge involved). If the USFS considers mountain biking and hang gliding mechanical, how much of a leap would it take to consider AT and Tele ski set-ups?

  2. WMC September 22nd, 2010 10:48 am

    Skiers are denied the use of their Public Lands as a result of ever-growing amounts of terrain covered by snowmobile riding. Skiers cannot compete, in fact a skier cannot remain safely on avalanche terrain if a snowmobile is on the scene since the snowmobile may climb in seconds onto a potential slab to cause an avalanche more quickly than a skier may escape.Our experience is that snowmobile riders seek the same powder snow as do skiers, and snowmobile riders do not share as they enjoy tracking the snow quickly as skiers walk for their turns.

    The WWA Petition asks for USFS Management of motorized use of the Forest in winter in a fashion similar to non-snow management of motorized Forest use. There are no lines drawn, no call for new Wilderness, simply a request that snowmobiles are reasonably managed on Federal Lands as codified for other off-road vehicles since 1972.

    It is a mysterious development that snowmobiles have been excluded from the clear requirements for management of motorized off-road vehicles on Federal Lands. New snowmobile technology of as much as 163 HP stock machines with sophisticated suspension and long tracks allow snowmobiles to travel anywhere skiers go, and more. One snowmobile may be ridden on the winter Forest to greater impact in one hour than the impacts of perhaps a hundred skiers all day! There is not enough snow-covered Public Land to satisfy the needs of snowmobiles, and the use of snowmobiles on the Forest is unfairly crowding out the original users, the majority of Forest users, skiers, snowshoers, winter campers.The time has come for reasonable Management of the winter Forest to provide for all recreational uses.

  3. Andrew September 22nd, 2010 11:12 am

    Will uninvited slednecks be welcome to high-mark at your Port-a-hut site?

  4. Lou September 22nd, 2010 11:26 am

    WMC, mostly good points but you might need some sledneck time, as there is no way sleds can go everywhere a skier can go. Many places, but not everywhere.

    Andrew, only if it’s you.

  5. Lou September 22nd, 2010 11:33 am

    Njord, I don’t think it’s too much of leap to imagine the USFS ruling that AT bindings are not allowed in Wilderness. All it would would take would be a large lobby such as Sierra Club pushing for it. Reason is the whole pile of rules for what’s allowed in Wilderness is based on some pretty vague wording in the Wilderness act, and subject to interpretation by mostly well meaning folks who are nonetheless really just bureaucrats bending to public and political pressure.

    Also, it is much cheaper to manage a tract of roadless Wilderness than it is to manage multi-use USFS lands, so there is some financial incentive as well.

  6. Steve September 22nd, 2010 11:35 am

    Where is there currently sledder/skier conflict? I need more education. I suppose the potential in this is that sleds could start riding in places like Teton Pass.

  7. WMC September 22nd, 2010 12:03 pm

    Lou here are some vids of some extreme riding by the Krazy Canadian posted on a Forum- http://www.backcountryrebels.com/showthread.php?t=1363

    We see snowmobile riders continue to expand their riding areas in Washington, as technology and determined riders get into more areas previously considered inaccessible to snowmobile riding. A group of snowmobile riders on the fantastic new machines, with some help from a handsaw, can forge routes into new places. Now just a tiny fraction of open snowy Forest slopes here are untracked by snowmobiles when compared to 10 years ago, or compared to just 5 years ago.

    Yes, Lou you are technically correct however from a practical perspective snowmobiles are riding wherever skiers go to skitour. Snowmobiles here now dominate areas where they “do not see skiers.” However we have direct knowledge and experience that those same snowmobile-dominated areas were used since the 1950s by snowshoers and skiers. Early snowshoe enthusiasts here used the earliest models of snowmobiles to get up Roads to Trailheads to climb peaks. Now those peaks are tracked to the high summits and may have 20 snowmobile riders cycling the flanks of the mountain on a nice winter day.

    It is a stretch to consider ski gear as possibly being banned. Bicycles are wheeled vehicles. I think we are aware here that wheels are not allowed in Wilderness. Climbing bolts in Wilderness were preserved after discussion and controversy. Paragliding in Wilderness was quickly banned, interesting in contrast to lack of effort to curb Wilderness snowmobile trespass here. It is well-known fact that snowmobiles have ridden into and across the Alpine Lakes Wilderness since the early 1980s in some places and since the early 1990s on a widespread basis as viewed from overflying aircraft passengers, as openly discussed by snowmobile riders here.

  8. Tim M. September 22nd, 2010 12:13 pm

    What is the real scourge here? Dudes who ride sleds? Or dudes who ride Gulfstreams into places like Aspen and then hop in their Priuses en route to their largely-uninhabited and yet incongruously staffed castles in order to ride wind-powered chairlifts and do a catered hut trip or two on their Dynafit rigs replete with carbon-fiber boots? Whatever the case, dudes who ride sleds make a more convenient and scrutable enemy.

  9. Matt Kinney September 22nd, 2010 12:56 pm

    I just go where they can’t these days. I do the same in regards to yo-yoing heli-sissies.

    Seems that most the hybrid skiers I see cannot fix their machines anyway. They are not the traditional snowmachiners who actually enjoy fixing machines when they break down by gathering buddies, drinking beer in the garage all night, tossing tools about and laughing about life, women and NASCAR scandals. I like those guys and number of them are my pals.

    When a skier’s snowmachine breaks down its typically:

    ” WTF do I do now. I don’t even own a wrench. CRAP!!!!”

    The tarhead skiers I see here are not mechanics in the least. So when the machine finally breaks down, they are screwed, left with $400 monthly payments and no access to powder til they find someone else to fix it. They lost their skins, Even simple fixes are beyond their abilities. The exception are some star skiers who are sponsored or have the trust fund to have others fix their motor-toys while they soak in a hot tub waiting for repairs.

    lou obviously is an exception to these observations. He can fix a broken wrench if needed 🙂 .

    Snowmachine rights in Alaska are as sacred as gun rights, so its not worth the frustration and retaliatory actions by the thousands of tarhead extremists to find middle ground on the issue with “meetings” by state and federal land managers.

    The exception is when they enter my realm while I am managing complicated terrain and assessing or avoiding avalanche trouble. That is a direct threat to my safety, ski partners and at times, my clients. I resent that wether its a heligroup, snowmachiner or other skinners.

    Other than that I pray that everyone who does snowmachines respects the environment, respects those of us who skin for turns, gets a four stroke and silences the muffler to go stealth, not braap.

  10. Jeff September 22nd, 2010 2:35 pm

    As a skier who has only ridden a snowmobile twice I have a simple solution. Any skier who wants snowmobiles banned should also agree to refuse any assistance via snowmobile. No rescue by snowmobile, no supply of backcountry huts by snowmobile etc. As to the complaints about snowmobiles tracking up the trails I remember my days working on Vail Pass as a volunteer for the Forest Service. Time and time again skiers would ask me where they could ski without seeing snowmobiles. I would direct them across the exit bridge to Corral Creek. Every single time the next question would be, “Is the trail packed?’ They wanted the snowmobiles to pack out the trail for them and then magically disappear. Finally, anybody can find examples of bad behavior with any recreation group. Mountain bikes have been talked about in this discussion. Well I can show you many a trail in designated wilderness areas that are clearly being illegally ridden by mountain bikes. The tracks are obviously from bicycles, not OHVs. Where is the enforcement there? In 40 years of backcountry skiing Colorado I have never had a problem with any snowmobiler but I can certainly list many instances of disrespectful and damaging actions by non-motorized users. What it really boils down to is that some people go into the mountains to enjoy nature and this includes skiers and snowmobilers and some go just to look for a reason to be offended. And when those people claim to speak for skiers like me, then I am offended.

  11. John S September 22nd, 2010 2:48 pm

    One wonderful part of the National Parks in the Canadian Rockies is the lack of motorized transport. There are a few, very rare exceptions, where snowmobiles are used to supply backcountry huts, but those machines must be kept on a specified trail and travel at a slow speed. Even at that, when ski touring in those areas, I find the snowmobiles loud and stinky, and I’m reminded of how lucky we are not to have them elsewhere in the Parks.

    I grew up on Baffin Island and in the far Eastern Arctic in the Mackenzie River delta, and snowmobiles were a part of every household. We used them as transport and for recreation, but with such a small population, it was more than possible to abandon your machine and spend as many days as you liked in the quiet of the winter wilderness. Today, non-national park areas in B.C. can be flooded with hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of snowmobiles at once.

    I think for the benefit of flora and fauna (anyone that thinks snowmobiles don’t wreck things or disturb wildlife is fooling themselves) and for the quiet enjoyment of self-propelled wilderness adventurers, we should severely limit the terrain where snowmobiles can legally access.

  12. Steve EP September 22nd, 2010 6:30 pm

    I’ve been watching this skier vs. sledder scenario for a good 15 years now and really what I think it boils down to is population increase. In the areas I go to it is quite obvious that we have more people that hike to ski, xc ski, as well as sledders. I’ve watched the population around here grow for the past 33 years of my adult life. It still beats living anywhere else.
    Now there are only so many places that are plowed so we can park and recreate in the winter. I live in an area here in the west that promotes itself for our outdoor quality of life and have spoke with many people who have moved here from all over the U.S. just for that reason.
    Another factor is that the sledders in my part of the world have been moved out of areas 20, 15 to 10 years ago and consequently have become a tad more concentrated in other areas. Yes they have given up areas to ride and yet are being asked to give up more?
    We gotta get along. Remember kindergarten rulesf? They still apply. The thing I find interesting is that it is the leg powered people that want to lock out other users. I have yet to speak with a sledder that thinks we should lock human powered users out of anywhere and yet the sledders areas that are wild. They just don’t think we need more wilderness. I live in one of the lower 48 states with record amounts of wilderness.
    One solution here was to have roundtabel talks with all users and the voluntary agreement was that the sledders would leave the close in slopes to the skiers and the stuff several miles out would be fair game to all. They also left some nice north facing bowls alone for the skiers. Funny thing is I was in one of the bowls one Saturday and some of the other skiers were bellyaching about other skiers being there.
    With all that said, let it snow and a great winter to all!

  13. Jim September 22nd, 2010 8:01 pm

    I really don’t like sleds, their noise, their smell. They really can ruin the whole experience for me. I made the mistake of going skinning right during the state hill climb contest. There were over 1000 snowmobiles, and they trashed the entire valley, the noise was mind boggling, and there were hotdog stands. I think we should set aside limited areas for them, and they can go wild. They don’t really need the wilderness to do their thing.

  14. Bar Barrique September 22nd, 2010 8:56 pm

    This is an ongoing issue, but one thing I would like to point out is; for me this is more than skiers versus snowmobilers. Preserving wilderness is perhaps a more important consideration. So after setting aside wilderness areas (no helisking either), management of the rest of the skiing, and, snowmobiling terrain could be possible. For most user groups, the majority will respect the regulations, and, for those who violate the rules; I would suggest prosecution rather than warnings.

  15. Dostie September 22nd, 2010 10:10 pm

    Seems we’ll all be better off if we figure out how to get along. Not saying this will work all the time, but I’ll bet if you stuck your thumb out at a popular skier/sledneck trailhead and had a picture of Andy Jackson in that hand you’d make a friend and get a tow in closer to your destination. You might even get a gentleman’s agreement to stay on opposite sides of the mountain too for an extra Lincoln.

    Then again, maybe not. Can’t say I’ve ever tried this trick, but thought of it often as a way to bridge the divide. You save time on the way in, they pad their gas and beer coffers a bit, and instead of eyeing each other warily, you’re working together to get the goods.

    In reality I try to simply avoid sleds by chosing to ski where they are not. Sometimes that isn’t completely possible, but usually even if the trailhead is the same, the destination is not.

    I don’t like the noise, but think a silent sled would be worse. Better to know they are nearby than have them suddenly appear over the ridge unannounced.

  16. Dostie September 22nd, 2010 10:14 pm

    One more point. I agree with a solution Lou has proposed several times. Instead of restricting where snowmobiles can go, increase the number of trailheads for all of us to access winter wildlands and we’ll all just spread out and not get in each others way (as much).

    I’ll bet you could even get backcountry skiers to contribute to such a cause and in the end, economics is why the sleds run rampant. Government agencies make bundles of cash from license fees and such from motorheads of all varieties. There is very little revenue from those tree-huggin’, granola munching, turn earning backcountry skier types. 😉

  17. Bar Barrique September 22nd, 2010 10:45 pm

    Some of my neighbors, and, coworkers like to enjoy the outdoors on snowmobiles. I have no problem with it, however; I think it would be nice if there was more enforcement in areas where snowmobiles are not permitted. I live in Canada where the issues seem to be the same as in the US.

  18. WMC September 22nd, 2010 10:46 pm

    The WWA Petition asks USFS (and other Federal Agencies) to appropriately manage snowmobile riding. That is, decide where snowmobiles may be ridden in consideration of physical resources and of other forest users, What would the discussion be if motorcycles raced around the mountains past hikers and past tents pitched for camp? Why do snowmobiles get a pass in this consideration- there is no speed limit, very vague Laws governing operating a snowmobile, and it is a myth that snomo riders are kind to pedestrians and like to share- they are out there for fun, to get the untracked snow, they do not leave it for anyone else.The very kind group of 14 middle-aged riders who chatted with our skitour group last winter congenially then tracked out the slope beside us, up and down within 10 feet of us. They were just having fun, no clue of what it was like for pedestrians walking up on skis and skins as they lapped beside us. After we skied the next ridge they followed our tracks in there- a place that did not get snowmobile tracks until our ski tracks were observed, indicating an area with open slopes/ routes.

    Why is there a pretense that snowmobiles do no harm to the physical environment when off-road? They do, new studies are quantifying the damage. Old studies that claim no harm were done when snowmobiles could hardly get off of the road, now even the powder snow amongst the lodgepole stands gets packed by snowmobile riders getting the last foot of powder. Powerful snowmobiles trench to a depth of feet with a pull on a throttle, and if the soil is reached the digging continues. Straight lines of broken trees are commonly found where snowmobiles are ridden on a hillclimb.

    The elitist argument is a hoot. New snowmobiles now cost more than $10k, up to $12k+. The standard activity of snowmobile riding offroad denies the use of the Forest to the majority users, pedestrians.Not to say there should be complete prohibition, there should be reasonable management.

    It appears that the problem was previously managed to some extent in the intermountain areas. The nature of Cascades terrain here has delayed the current situation until the technology evolved now to allow snowmobile riding to the current extent. USFS Management has lagged far behind the new snowmobile capabilities, including the ability to cross and track the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Snowmobile riding is ever-expanding, I have observed the 20 percent of open slopes ridden by snowmobiles 10 years ago now become 80 to 90 percent of open slopes ridden by snowmobiles. I know of many areas that could be legally ridden with perhaps a little brush-cutting for access, but those areas are not yet known or discovered- but they could be used for snowmobile riding soon.

    We speak for our experience and for our supporters. Some who comment seem to want to stifle our polite request for reasonable USFS Management. Some express that skiers should be quiet and just use the rutted snow behind snowmobiles- no thanks, but those of you who believe that have ample opportunity to ski in the ruts and fumes.

  19. Troy J Smith September 23rd, 2010 8:46 am

    Steve EP: Do you live in Bend, OR?

    I think a bunch of you are way off base. I don’t think there should be a legal basis to ban something because YOU DON’T LIKE IT. If it’s something that is indisputably having a negative effect on the environment, to such a large degree, that the offending behavior needs to be legally modified, then fine. But if it’s just that you like something else better, that’s not good enough to make laws to stop someone else.

    There’s more and more people all the time, and no one has a legal right to absolute solitude at their favorite close-to-home trailhead. The world is filling up, if you want real solitude, you’re going to have to really find some far-out boonies to find it. That’s just the way it is.

    I participate in many outdoor recreation sports, mostly muscle powered but some motorized. I do own a sled. I also backcountry ski. Around here, we have several trail heads and snowparks within a 25 minute drive from my front door. People go to these trailheads and then expect pristine and silent wilderness experiences. That’s ridiculous, you’re 25 minutes from town!

    I’ve got more to say, but i’m out of time, late for work.

  20. JM September 23rd, 2010 12:51 pm

    First, I don’t own, nor use a snowmobile to aid in my backcountry fun. All of my winter backcountry adventures are human powered. And in all honesty, I would prefer to have some peace and quiet when I am out skinning. HOWEVER, increasing government oversight in this area and making decisions that apply nationally is a terrible mistake. The current ruling on this matter indicates that “management of snowmobiles and other OSVs entirely contingent upon a discretionary decision of the local responsible official to “restrict or prohibit” over-snow vehicle use.” So if you are having an issue in your particular section of this fine country, then please take it up with your local FS district supervisor. Please don’t screw the rest of the country.

    The WWA Petition asks USFS (and other Federal Agencies) to appropriately manage snowmobile riding. That is, decide where snowmobiles may be ridden in consideration of physical resources and of other forest users…”

    I have read the synopsis, and it’s clear that the goal of the petition is to significantly limit access to over the snow vehicles. Using the term “appropriatly manage” is flat out misleading. We obviously have different opinions on what constitutes “appropriate management”. Just call it what it is – further government restriction on certain types of recreation.

    “…and it is a myth that snomo riders are kind to pedestrians and like to share- they are out there for fun, to get the untracked snow, they do not leave it for anyone else.”

    This is your opinion, not a fact. Furthermore, how does this differ from most backcountry skiers? Are we not out there to get the untracked snow? Should I be limited to the number of untracked turns – once I reached my quota I have to ski the chop? Everyone wants to regulate the things that they don’t personally agree with; but what they don’t realize is that eventually YOUR hobbby will be targeted (in one way or another). What goes around comes around with this type of government involvement.

    “Why is there a pretense that snowmobiles do no harm to the physical environment when off-road? They do, new studies are quantifying the damage.

    Can you provide information on these “studies”?

    “…now even the powder snow amongst the lodgepole stands gets packed by snowmobile riders getting the last foot of powder.”

    Is there any evidence that consolidated snow in lodgepole forests is harmful? Should tree-skiing amongst the lodgepoles be illegal? With enough skiers, the snow will also get packed.

    “Powerful snowmobiles trench to a depth of feet with a pull on a throttle, and if the soil is reached the digging continues.”

    Sure, but so can a prius that’s stuck on the side of the road. You need to accept that there will ALWAYS be those individuals who are not responsible and respectful. Perhaps focusing time and energy on education, rather than restrictions would create a more harmonious environment amongst ALL winter recreation users.

    “Straight lines of broken trees are commonly found where snowmobiles are ridden on a hillclimb.”

    Maybe this is true, maybe not… without supporting evidence it’s irresponsible to claim this as a fact.

    “The standard activity of snowmobile riding offroad denies the use of the Forest to the majority users, pedestrians.”

    This statement is patently false. Snowmobiles don’t string barbwire fencing behind them as they motor along. Snowmobiling does NOT deny access to public lands. They only thing they might deny is some fresh pow; which as a skier can be most regrettable. Perhaps find a zone where snowmo’s aren’t allowed?

    “…I have observed the 20 percent of open slopes ridden by snowmobiles 10 years ago now become 80 to 90 percent of open slopes ridden by snowmobiles.”

    Your individual experience in an isolated regional area(s) cannot be construed as factual data that applies to the nation as a whole. I would like to reiterate that snowmobile access should be responsibly managed to keep both the human and gas powered enthusiasts happy – there needs to be a balance. Remember, just because YOU don’t like snowmobiles, that doesn’t mean that the activity is morally, ethically, or otherwise wrong.

  21. troy September 23rd, 2010 1:22 pm

    Bravo JM, I like your approach.

  22. Andrew September 23rd, 2010 4:23 pm

    Sled riders are to the backcountry as chainsaw artists are city parks. You might think your screaming eagle sculpture belongs in a museum, but other patrons have alternative ideas of where you can stick it. If you are going to be a chainsaw artist, stick to the trailer parks.

  23. WMC September 23rd, 2010 5:52 pm

    JM, you sound like a lobbyist for snowmobile enthusiasts. In this case, you are debating with someone who owns three snowmobiles rides a snowmobile 40 days per winter to go skiing. I have ridden a snowmobile for skiing or fur trapping for 25 years. I have observed personally the takeover of the winter Forest by increasingly capable snowmobiles and their riders.

    As a matter of fact, we are working with our local Forest Officials and are scheduled to meet with the Supervisor. As Lou often discusses, we are asking for recreation management for winter non-motorized use aside from just advocating more Wilderness. We are a group trying to secure a share of accessible unroaded Forest for non-motorized winter recreation. The Wenatchee Mountains Coalition of central Washington state is advocating for a share of the Wenatchee Mountains pristine crest that borders the Alpine Lakes Wilderness to be designated winter non-motorized area- http://www.justgetout.net/Wenatchee/18996

    Nice try, JM and cheerleaders, but I think that your arguments are similar to the postings on snowmobile Forums. Your words do not demonstrate a knowledge of skitouring or realistic assessment of the situation in the winter Forest. The technology is far ahead of any USFS planning or consideration of impacts for the extent of current offroad riding. Every other motorized vehicle in a public area in the US is closely regulated, Some snowmobile riders try to sell themselves as the victims after they have taken the recreation resource from the original and traditional users. After these snowmobile rides render the Forest undesirable for other users, they then try to call anyone selfish who would question their uncontrolled aggressive use of the resource. One thing is certain, snowmobile riders and their Organizations are programmed and planned to be aggressive, to attempt intimidation, and to repeat nonsense like some spoiled screaming child until they accomplish the intimidation and stifle the management of snowmobile riding.

  24. Troy J Smith September 23rd, 2010 7:26 pm

    Andrew, you exemplify perfectly one of the problems i always see in land use debates. You have just shown that you want to legislate away something other people do, because you don’t like it. You find snowmobiling to be distasteful, and not your style, like artwork that you find distasteful. However, in the same way that it would be absurd for a law to be made prohibiting chainsaw art, just because you don’t like it, it’s also absurd to prohibit snowmobiling, just because you don’t like it.

    WMC, can you be specific about the problems with what JM said? He asked some specific questions regarding your earlier post, which have not been answered.

    A few points i have regarding your latest post:
    1. Non motorized users are the original forest recreational users. Does that count for anything? Should we not build highways because the land they are on was originally used for horses? It really doesn’t matter who originally was the most common user of the land, or how they used it. Is that relevant at all? I think all that matters is what people want to do now. There are no “dibs” on public land use.

    Snowmobilers do not “Take the recreation resources from the original and traditional users.” The resources are still there. Again, if you want to not see anyone else around while you’re in the outdoors, you have to go far, far into the boonies. That is just a consequence of an increased number of people in the world. Bummer, I’ll admit.

    This would be a good place for me to mention that i am in favor of reasonable restrictions on sound levels and emissions for snowmobiles (and any other motorized recreation) used on public land. I don’t like the noise either. I’ll admit, i like the noise of my own sled, but i’m mature enough to realize that others are not impressed and would rather not hear it. Plus, when i’m skinning, i’d rather not hear others. So i’m very much willing to give up whatever small ‘cool factor’ there is to a screamin exhaust note, for the overall good of the sport and as a courtesy to others.

    2. Snowmobile advocates do not demonstrate a knowledge of ski-touring. That is probably true to a large extent, i don’t really see how it’s that relevant to the discussion though. I am a ski-tourer by the way, and not always with sled access. I’m relatively new to it, i’ll admit (a couple seasons, very excited now for my next one and skiing more backcountry peaks), but I do it and i know what it’s like.

    3. I’m not sure that over-snow-vehicles can be compared to other OHVs because they do not touch the soil. Sure, occassionally in early or late season they might dig down to dirt, but that is an exception, not the norm. I guess i can’t speak to everywhere in the US, but around here (central oregon) it is extremely rare to see dirt while snowmobiling during the regular season. Generally, we are riding 4-10 feet above the ground. Vegetation damage does happen to a very small degree, but i honestly believe it to be a VERY small degree. I can’t imagine that snow compaction can be a real problem, but if it is, i’m interested to hear the details. I am very concerned about the well-being of our forests, they are my favorite place to be.

    Oh, and WMC, are you really suggesting that you would save some powder runs for someone else, and not ski them yourself? C’mon, that’s absurd. That is certainly not a skiier vs snowmobiler thing.

    Anyway, i’ve skied or boarded for 19 years, and snowmobiled for about 16. Backcountry skied or boarded for about 4 years now. I’m very happy to see that a lot of skiers are using sleds for access around here, because mixing the 2 groups together reveals that there is very little separating a lot of us, other than the noise, and i think that can be overcome.

    There are those in each group, the stereotypes, that are extremes, and will never get along. They are the super-redneck sledder, and the holier-than-thou eco skier. I don’t care for either of them particularly, but i align more with the eco skier (though you may find that hard to believe based on my stance in this discussion). The redneck i hate because he gives people a bad impression of me, simply because i’m on a snowmobile. He has a super loud sled, rides it irresponsibly and leaves trash all over the place. He has no courtesy. HE DOES NOT REPRESENT ALL SNOWMOBILERS. AND, the people that are pissed at him, need to realize that they’re pissed at HIM, not at his snowmobile. He’s an asshole on it or off it.

    The holier-than-thou eco freak has good intentions, noble in his own mind, but he is trying to force his beliefs on others and his self-righteous snooty attitude does not help. People need to realize that HE DOES NOT REPRESENT ALL SKIERS. AND people are pissed at him, not at his skis.

  25. WMC September 23rd, 2010 8:57 pm

    Troy and JM sound like the usual SAWS/ snowmobile Organization robots. Typically, you come onto any website that discusses snowmobiles and bully, just as you do in the winter Forest.. Snowmobile Organizations state in their mission statements that they will not compromise, thus they are inconsiderate of any other Forest use and aggressive and hostile to anyone who questions the suitability of snowmobile riding anywhere that they wish. You have done a good job of creating and maintaining sweetheart relationships with some Officials, and you have done a good job intimidating gentle folks so that they will be silent about snowmobile use.

    We and others are encouraging the majority of gentle citizens who use the Forest to speak up for their use of the Forest. In our range of mountains there is hardly a day-accessible place on beautiful peaks to escape snowmobiles. In our area, snowmobile riders have most of the USFS Lands outside Wilderness, and whine about anyone else asking to use the Forest. We see and encourage a growing popular sentiment for USFS management of snowmobile riding that takes the resource from other users.

  26. Troy J Smith September 23rd, 2010 11:21 pm

    I don’t know what others are saying, i do not belong to any clubs. But if it sounds familiar, maybe it’s because there’s some truth to it that others can find as well.

    You keep implying that motorized users are out to get the others. Simply not the case, all that snowmobilers are asking for is not to BE thrown out. Talk about playing the victim.

    “In our area, snowmobile riders have most of the USFS Lands outside Wilderness, and whine about anyone else asking to use the Forest.”

    Baloney, they don’t whine about others asking to use the forest. Others are free to use the forest. They whine about being kicked out, same as you would. In fact, you’re whining because you can’t use the land without sharing it. They whine because of the threat that they won’t be able to use the land AT ALL. Everyone else can use the forest AND the wilderness areas.

    I can only speak to my region, but around here, snowmobiles never, ever ask for exclusive access to an area, the most they ask for is just to be allowed in, along with whomever else uses the area. There is a large wilderness area, (which, unfortunately for sledders includes most of the best mountain riding) that skiers can use and motorized cannot. There is not any area that motorized can use and skiers cannot.

    How much more land should non-motorized have access to, than motorized, in order for you to call it fair?

    In any case, we’re not going to change anybody’s mind. No sense in trolling on Lou’s site. I suppose this is enough.

  27. Lou September 24th, 2010 6:30 am

    Troy, actually, I’ve seen many minds changed about this issue.

    Your point about the issue of being “thrown out” is a good one. Any skier who doesn’t understand where motorized users are coming from needs to put themselves in their shoes. Backcountry skiers are rarely restricted from public land and enjoy the right to pretty much go where we want. Motorized users are restricted in a variety of ways. That is a HUGE difference.

    As I’ve written many times, I agree with more enforcement of existing rules, as well as the occasional segregation of use. But we skiers need to understand that when we lobby to exclude another user group, while at the same time pretty much having the run of the place, that’s going to get some people’s hackles up. Like I said, just try to reverse the roles in your imagination.

  28. Kidd September 24th, 2010 8:36 am

    You guys sound like a bunch of lawyers.

  29. RB September 24th, 2010 8:50 am

    Put enough rats in the box and they’re gonna fight.

  30. WMC September 24th, 2010 9:11 am

    All other motorized vehicles that are operated in a public area are closely regulated and limited as to where they may be operated. How can it be logical that snowmobiles have the unfettered run of the Forest.? Especially in our area of WA, snowmobiles operate in an aggressive screw-everyone-else freeforall!

    This is not about taking rights or freedom since snowmobile riding interferes the rights and freedom of other citizens! This is about balancing the rights and opportunities of conflicting user groups! When snowmobile riders exercise their “right” to ride unregulated offroad on Public Lands the practical opportunity “right” for non-motorized users to use the winter Forest is abridged.

    The Petition asks for Management of snowmobiles on Federal Lands, that is a shocking concept for uncompromising snowmobile enthusiasts.We encourage skiers and other winter non-motorized Forest users to speak up and ask for consideration of their Forest use and USFS Management of snowmobile riding.

  31. WMC September 24th, 2010 9:33 am

    Another attempt to stifle the conversation, perhaps? “Put enough rats in the box and they’re gonna fight.” …’ You guys sound like a bunch of lawyers.” Our experience is that the organized snowmobile enthusiasts are up for a fight constantly, and attempt to silence anyone who would question the unfettered use of snowmobiles in our area.

    All citizens including skiers and snowmobile riders have a right bestowed by Officials to recreate on Forest lands. USFS (etc) is charged with managing Public Lands per Law and Administrative guidelines. It is simply an exercise in citizenship for skiers to ask for consideration of their Forest use!

  32. RB September 24th, 2010 9:44 am

    I’m certainly not advocating stifling conversation, I love it actually. I was making an observation about human nature, and I don’t see any deviation from it here.

  33. Matt Kinney September 24th, 2010 11:27 am

    Lost in this argument is the concerns about global warming and what impact unfettered motorized recreation has on that part of the equation. Let’s face it motorized recreation is an affront to everything we are doing to combat global warming and wether we as humans are serious about our response. Global warming is all about consumerism and Americans are the biggest pigs on the the planet. We can change that and still maintain a quality of life the world respects.

    With the exception of helicopter and snowmachine skiing, the ski industry at all levels is striving to go green and reduce our collective carbon footprint as an outdoor sport. Consuming fuel by snowmachining/heliing all over public lands seems simply irrational. I find it incredible that we even allow motorized recreation on any public land, when “practical alternatives” exist,,.. ie..walking, skinning, cycling, ballooning. We do not have time for this argument. What was acceptable and fun 20 years ago is not anymore. It is not “all good” as some skiers would like to think. Some of it is just bad.

    I see the clock ticking every summer as the glaciers around Valdez are melting before my eyes. It is as a shocking as it is impressive and convincing. Why kick a dying horse because you feel you have the some special right? That is what motorized winter recreation does…it kicks a dying horse.

    We are running out of oil if you have not noticed. 100’s of young Americans will die again this year on foreign soil to make sure the US has enough oil just to make it through this winter. Everyone in the world wants our lifestyle and we simply cannot provide that. Imagine everyone in China wanting a car in the same way. Our oil supply would evaporate in a day if that would occur. The problem is that China, India, etc are working toward that goal. We have very little time left. I say that not in a “fatalistic” way, but more as an observation in how we will evolve socially and economically as the USA. One good way to start is banning all motorized recreation on public lands. That will show that we are serious about a much bigger issue than trailhead conflicts in the Teton, Tioga or Thompson Pass.

    When I step up to a trailhead in America, I wear my patriotism and love of the country on the base of my skis. When I stand on a peak I feel very American. I do my part and disagree with any implication that my activism or skinning is in someway extreme or interferes with your right to recreate any way you please. Get real, sell your snowmachine and help the planet and its people in a real way. The government is not the solution, you are.

  34. RB September 24th, 2010 11:52 am

    Matt,

    You make some good points about Americans being “pigs” of resources, and Americans dying for oil, etc. Good conversation.

    However, global warming is a scam, and needs to be called as such. Or better phrased, saying humans are absolutely causing global warming and that the government can “fix” it is the scam. The glaciers have been melting for 10 to 13 thousand years. Global temperatures correlate to sun activity far more logically than CO2 concentrations, use of fossil fuels, etc. There is plenty of scientific dissent about the theory. Only the cap & trade crowd, along with the other “pigs” feeding at the resource trough, getting grants to promote and fix the global warming theory are claiming that the argument is over and we need to do something about it.

    I’d personally rather be wrong about this and cook, than right and see ever expanding governmental control over what we can and can’t do. (even though I wouldn’t miss the sleds) There’s plenty of case study to show us what happens with absolute power.

  35. cory September 24th, 2010 1:03 pm

    For me the biggest problem with this type of debate is that people feel the government is trying to limit them. They are not. They are trying to put a limit on stuff.

    As forests, wilderness areas, national parks and BLM lands were set aside, the leaders at the time had no way to predict that technology would change to the point that a sled could high line a 14er. Fast forward and that is where we are at today.

    Now, our elected leaders are put in a reactionary stance to address this problem. Obviously, those with sleds in their garage are going to throw a fit, because who wants a several thousand dollar paper weight laying around?

    My feeling is that the government should agressively address this issue and make proactive legislation aimed at preventing future advances in technology from being brought into our public lands.

    Just because a guy can afford a sweet long track sled, does that mean that it is the government’s responsiblity to provide him with a place to play on it? What happens when sleds advance to the point that capitol becomes a launch ramp and castle becomes the landing ramp?

    Furthermore, if you introduce a loud vehicle capable of high speeds into a natural environment at a time when species are at the climax of their yearly stress cycle, it is going to have an impact.

    Ultimately, my goal (and the goal of the Republican Theodore Roosevelt) was to set aside certain portions of some of the more beautiful places with some of our most impressive species for future generations to enjoy.

    America has rapidly progressed to the egocentric point of view. We no longer care about what our offspring or their offspring being able to enjoy the natural world as it naturally exists. It is all about me, right now, being able to use my sled.

    So it goes.

  36. JM September 24th, 2010 6:24 pm

    WMC –

    Actually, I think I sound like one of the few REASONABLE people in here that are willing and open to negotiate what constitutes fair use of our public land by ALL recreation users. If I sounded like a lobbyist, I would be passing off random statements as fact, touting “studies”, and cramming my own personal agenda down everyones throat. Actually… that sounds a lot like what you are doing. Whether you want to believe me or not, I will re-iterate the fact that I don’t own, nor have I ever used a sled to tour. The ONLY time I have ever even been on one was more than 15 years ago.

    You keep making mention of how things are in your area; as I previously stated, your area isn’t representative of EVERY area. In MY area of the Sierra Nevada’s, snomo’s aren’t a significant problem. In California, we have already regulated snowmo access to pretty small portions of the map. So again, your problems aren’t my problems – so don’t force YOUR solution on me.

    In my opinion, your overly broad assumptions and distasteful attacks will only push people away – myself included.

    To the engine hating eco folks –

    I have the luxury of working from home, meaning my diesel F-250 doesn’t leave the driveway for weeks at a time. My Jeep doesn’t leave the garage but more than 2 – 3 times a year. I no math wiz, but I would suspect that my “carbon footprint” is a whole lot smaller than the guy who commutes 100 miles a day in his eco-box. So the next time you see a guy with a diesel truck unloading his sled (again, I don’t own one) at the trailhead; please do me a favor… get down off your high-horse, and quit acting like he is single handidly destroying the world. Assuming you believe that humans are the cause of global warming, emmissions from OHV vehicles are WAY down the list in terms of overall contributors. If you want to reduce emissions, you may want to start with some of the bigger contributors if you think you can actually make a difference (which you can’t btw – the earth will warm and cool as it has done for thousands of years. Mother Nature is smarter and tougher than you – quit trying to outsmart her).

    Lastly, just because YOU don’t like it, doesn’t make it wrong. And contrary to what the eco-hippies have told us, there IS room in our forests for everyone – those who seek total solitude where no motorized vehicles should are allowed, and those who enjoy motorized pursuits. Can’t we all just get along?

  37. Lou September 24th, 2010 6:29 pm

    Easy there JM, need to leave off the name calling.I try to keep this place above that level. So keep posting, but please don’t use name calling such as “eco-hippies,” though I did get a chuckle out of that.

    Good point about emissions. One of the worst things is actually air travel, which is something that doesn’t seem to get talked about much since we North Americans do like our air travel.

  38. Lou September 24th, 2010 6:31 pm

    Cory, “reactionary” means old fashioned or wanting to keep things the same. I think you meant “reactive?”

  39. WMC September 24th, 2010 7:18 pm

    The Wenatchee Mountians Coalition is attempting to bring some balance back to the winter Forest in our area. We are not anti-snowmobile, we are opposed to snowmobiles dominating the entire pristine Wenatchee Mountains crest and across that crest into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

    WMC is asking for a share, and find a strong response from snowmobile enthusiasts who criticize WMC for not compromising. How is it possible to compromise when snowmobiles dominate a dozen beautiful mountains along the Wilderness Boundary and the pristine roadless Wenatchee Mountains crest. There is now a winter non-motorized Area that is very nice, that is about four Sections, 640 acres. In the area south of that crest, we advocate for the creation of winter non-motorized areas that would total in different Proposals perhaps 3% to 9% of the 440.000 Forest acres in that County (from a USFS quote) that are open to snowmobiling. Yet despite the small scale of our request, responses from opposition call us selfish, land grabbers, all sort of labels and negative descriptions of our intent.

    We have observed the very aggressive and uncompromising response from snowmobile enthusiasts. Our initiative and others such as the WWA Petition are currently active, our concerns and requests for areas for our non-motorized use will be shown to have support from the majority of citizens when the situation becomes understood.

  40. Lou September 24th, 2010 8:21 pm

    WMC, what you are doing sounds noble, but it also sounds like you are bewildered about the opposition you are getting. You need to understand the psychology of this. Put yourself in the snowmobiler’s shoes. You are asking them to give up land that they recreate on, while you have free reign over even more land than they do.. That is why you are getting a strong reaction. All anti-snomobile activists need to rethink their negotiating strategy. Otherwise it’s just going to be a bunch of unpleasent adversarial stuff and you’ll make very little progress without expending huge resources.

    Beyond that, how the heck are any new restrictions going to be enforced? I’m not saying rules and laws should be avoided because of enforcement problems, at least not always. But seriously, Our legal Wilderness here gets a lot of snowmobile trespass. A lot. To think we could designate even more land as restricted to snowmobiling, and enforce that, is a ludicrous proposition. Perhaps that’s not so for you, but definitely the case here.

  41. Bar Barrique September 24th, 2010 9:29 pm

    The “problem” (which has been mentioned in previous posts) is that snowmobiles have been increasing their capabilities. As a result more terrain becomes accessible to them. This has been an ongoing incremental process. The result is that areas that were previously only available to backcountry skiers are now overrun with snowmobiles. I understand the perspective of the well organized snowmobile lobby, but in my view; it is time to look at the big picture, and, come up with rational management plans, with an enforcement component. Full disclosure; I live in the Canadian Province of British Columbia, but the issues here are essentially the same.

  42. WMC September 24th, 2010 11:17 pm

    Lou,

    In our situation there has not been the management that is enjoyed perhaps in Colorado and other places. Suddenly, in just a few years, new-technology machines are taking over the Forest. Our area has more suitable open terrain for skiing or snowmobile riding when compared to the main Cascades. As a result, we are on the leading edge of a problem that will likely begin occurring more to skiers’ surprise elsewhere. The places considered inaccessible to snowmobile riding will soon see snowmobile tracks, and there will be more unhappy non-motorized Forest users unless we can create some USFS management.

    Wilderness trespass also affects any current voluntary non-motorized area and would affect any new non-motorized area since snowmobiles would come out of Wilderness into the non-motorized area. We have observed the problem and dealt with USFS for a few years in regard to the Wilderness snowmobile trespass and right now see two possible solutions.

    One goes along with oiur primary proposal, which would make the downslope from the Wilderness boundary to a Road non-motorized, thus that Wilderness Boundary is easily enforced from the Road since the non-Wilderness slope to approach is non-motorized.

    The other method of change is to create a culture change within the snowmobile community. We have had 1000+ Forum posts back and forth, WMC has endeavored to meet face-to-face, and we are not yet able to get snowmobile folks to the table (why should they- they have the entire mountain range and support from some in USFS ). We have one important snowmobile industry person who has met with us and given input more than once- guarding his interest but he does see our point. Our goal is to get them to understand and respect our use, and we likewise respect their use, we seek a collaborative agreement tin which we recognize each other’s uses, establish each other’s use areas, then protect our agreed situation in our area from outside attacks. Some of their best riding is a 8 hour march for a skier, so we talked of them having that, the best riding per them, and skiers have some of the closer-to-car terrain. To their credit in response to our vigorous advocacy, some of the snowmobile folks post on their Forum about their efforts to place more Wilderness Boundary signs helping the USFS Assistant, and talk of a “posse’ and other ideas to enforce the Wilderness Boundary. That is great. However, we believe that some compromise from the snowmobile side is in their best interest in the future. Left with no alternative, non-motorized users will be cornered into advocating for more Wilderness, as is created here every few years. Also, there are more studies about the physical effects and growing anti-snowmobile inertia from that front, and again we say let us meet, designate areas (and the snowmobiles would get the greater portion if they collaborate), consider resource issues and be pre-emptive, use all of this to preserve the balance that we negotiate in our mountain range.We see an alternative of snowmobiles in the future facing a much more dire loss than WMC is proposing.

    My life and many communities in eight counties were seriously affected by the Spotted Owl decisions stopping logging. Entire communities and economies were altered and/ or eliminated. I see a similarity, a momentum starting to build, and a final decision in the future from the 9th Circuit that largely eliminates snowmobiling from the Forest. A better alternative in our view, one that also gains what we are after, is compromise and collaboration now to defuse and preempt the Spotted Owl equivalent to snowmobile use on the Forest.

  43. Lou September 25th, 2010 6:20 am

    WMC, I totally understand where you guys are coming from on this and respect your motivation. I also think most of your solutions are valid. And good point about the ‘bilers needing to work on these issues now, preemptively, so they don’t just blunder into huge restrictions later on.

    My caution would be to watch out what you start as who knows how it will really end. Next thing you know, they’ll find some lynx or some other endangered species where you want to ski, and the authorities will say “hey, you skiers seem comfortable with restricting and dividing user areas, so how about we keep skiers out of there so the lynx can multiply?”

  44. WMC September 25th, 2010 7:11 am

    Good points, I have had similar concerns about the lynx and snow compaction, but think that is out of favor. We seek Management for the various uses and are careful to focus on the management of the recreational resource. What we seek has been done already on other Forests, and is a trend for USFS Management. The WWA Petition similarly seeks reasonable Management-. Why should snowmobiles be the only motorized vehicle in a public space remain so relatively unregulated?

    Again, we are striving to have our use recognized by USFS- the original use and original users (!), and we seek to sit down in collaboration with the competing motorized use folks and bring compromise and management to the situation as opposed to the all-or-nothing that seems to be the default for most folks in regard to snowmobiles on the Forest.

  45. Bill September 25th, 2010 9:19 pm

    Wow, well I’m done in a obviously lesser used section of the Sierra Nevada. I never realized the “QUEST FOR VIRGIN POWDER” was so competitive in other areas. I don’t trust me knee enough to ski anymore so I sled a bit to get out in the sun and fresh air. I run an underpowered stock Phazer Mnt Lite and it’s quiet and clean and dependable but I can’t race to the top of the tallest Mnt. But honestly, I don’t need to be king of the hill. I simply love being out in a meadow, or on a frozen lake, or in a thick everygreen forest smelling the trees. Why is it that everyone seems to have forgotten what a miracle this planet, indeed each of our individual lifes truly are? I’m ashamed that all of us can’t share and compromise, respect each other and enoy the gifts we have. And instead that we will be fighting like dogs over the last soup bone. So be it.
    Well perhaps we need to create lotteries with trailhead starting times, like to tee-offf to a golf tournament so as to spread around the opportunity for untracked powder fairly amongst what seems to be a very competitive and selfish populace. Or close it off to everyone, and say none of us deserve it.

    reflect on that….

  46. WMC September 25th, 2010 10:04 pm

    How is it “selfish’ or ‘can’t get along’ that when non-motorized users ask for a portion of the Forest to be returned after is is nearly all taken by snowmobiles outside Wilderness? WMC is not asking for all of it, as the snowmobilers do, the WWA Petition asks for Management, not for exclusion, it asks for inclusion of all winter Forest users!

  47. Bill September 26th, 2010 9:11 am

    “The Petition” if implemented in its entirety would “outlaw” snowmobiling on 99% of the land snowmobilers are allowed to use. Because they would only be allowed to used marked roads and trails. Frozen lakes, fields, sides of hills, Mountains etc would be outlawed. Management of Federal Winter Recreational areas would be transfered from Professional Land Use Regional Managers who live and work in the areas that they manage, and know the local ecologies, economies, and the issues that exist in the local areas they manage.
    This “LOCAL” management would be transferred to centralized management in Washington DC. To be run not by the local professionals educated in ecology, wildlife management, and environmental protection, but by loyal political party politicians, concerned not with ecology, or wildlife, but votes and supporting the political party that they are indebted to. This model most closely resembles that of the central committees of the now defunct Soviet Union. This Petition will stop the cooperative efforts that HAVE BEEN WORKING in other regions where competing users groups compromise and agree on terms they can all live with to allow for EVERYONE to “do their thing”. You want specificity? In Alpine County, CA, it was agreed that ForestDale Creek and the West Side of Hwy 88 was to be transferred for the exclusive use of the Non-Motorized Public. Additionally it was agreed that funds would be taken out of the OHV funds to pay for signs to clearly state this. The OSV groups have supported this compromise, we could have resisted and made it a legal matter.

    TO sum it up, in this agreement in Alpine County,the NON-Motorized groups seized control of tens of thousands of acres of public lands, Park on publicly funded roads pull-offs, plowed with publicly funded snowplows, use porti-potties that are publicly funded, and dump their trash in Bear proof trash containers that are publicly funded and emptied by public employees, And how much money did the Non-Motorized groups contribute to this in the way of permits? Not one red cent. Their you go folks, socialism at it’s worst, The elite demanding only the very best, every available service to be provided, and for everyone else to pay for it.

    Yes because of this petition, the ohv users, snowmobilers included will take action demanding that the anti-s cease and desist raiding their ohv funds. A class action suit most likely will occur claiming that the ohv groups are being discriminated against as a class because they have to pay for permits to park, and permits to recreate, while the Non-Motorized groups do not. The ohv groups will demand that the anti-s create and fund their own revenue streams such as winter parking permits (which we pay) and winter recreation permits (which we pay), these non-motorized permit funds can go in a stand alone Non-Motorized fund which will be available for grant application and use by the Non-motorized groups. Who can then experience the frustration, and feelings of betrayal as groups who swore alliance and cooperation to them take the funds and then use them against them.

    Politically this petition is a disastor, this petition is a creation of the extreme left wing within our political system, it’s no secret than there is huge bubble of angry middle of the road (independent) voters who are going to swing their vote to the right in response to Obama Care. This petition will motivate OHV users who have traditionally voted democratic to vote republican, and will be a contributing factor in the uncrowning of the left wing majority in the mid-term elections.

    Yes everyone has issues, everyone has goals, but the only model that ever works in this sort of conflict resolutiion is for everyone to sit down and compromise and come up with viable solutions that everyone can agree on. When you have a situation (win/lose) where one side just beats the hell out of the other side there ALWAYS is a retaliatory reaction later. The first rule of negotiations is keeping your word, and the NON-Motorized groups have broken their word. They now have no credibility, ie they can’t be trusted. If this petition actually is implemented. The opposing groups will be able to succesfully claim that appeasement hasn’t worked and that no further compromise should occur.

    How would the Non-Motorized groups like a rule that NON-Motorized users have to stay on trail? With roving law enforcement to ensure it? paid for by your recreational permits?

    Think it can’t happen? think again!

    Pray and hope that wisdom prevails and that this petition is thrown out with a requirement that all parties sit down, discuss their concerns, and work on compromises all can live with. Peace is allways harder to maintain then war, let’s work harder people.

    Mntlover (Founder of Sage Riders of BLue Lakes, a osv political action group)

  48. Michael September 28th, 2010 2:20 pm

    Snowmobiles are loud, stinking polluters. Snowmobilers litter. We call empty beer cans on snow “biler scat” around here. High marking causes avalanches that lead to more deaths than skiers venturing into dicey terrain.

    http://www.nwac.us/media/uploads/pdfs/US_Avalanche_Fatalities_by_Activity_Category_2009-10.pdf

    I don’t like anything about snowmobiles.

    That being said, I do believe there should be a place for them in “multiple abuse” national forests. I just want to know where those places are so I can avoid them.

    Some of us who ski value silence and solitude.

  49. RC September 28th, 2010 4:24 pm

    Lou, one of the rivets that holds the brake on my dynafit binding broke. Is there anything on your web site about the easiest way to fix it? Thanks!

  50. Lou September 28th, 2010 5:58 pm

    RC, sorry, I don’t have any brake fix howto here… send me a photo via contact link in menu above so I know what your’e writing about…

    Lou

  51. gonzoskijohnny September 29th, 2010 3:06 pm

    from JM- ” Snowmobiles don’t string barbwire fencing behind them as they motor along. Snowmobiling does NOT deny access to public lands. They only thing they might deny is some fresh pow; which as a skier can be most regrettable. Perhaps find a zone where snowmo’s aren’t allowed?”

    please show me a place in NW colorado where i can day ski in (say up to 6 miles and 3000′ vert or so) make some turns in decent terrain in a quiet area on good untracked pow, get back by dark, and snowmos aren’t allowed.

    In the last 3 years, I can only find this expereience if i start skiing before sunrise, get my runs in quick, then close my eyes and ears on the way home by 1PM. it used to be a LOT different.
    ie- Buffalo pass is easily day toured by any fit skitourer, but 90% of the idiots “need” sleds to go out 3 miles and make a few runs. When done they end up skiing what lools like in bounds bump runs, where 10 years ago we used to ski pow. Sleds now go nearly everywhere, with little the FS does, or even can do to limit them.
    If you put in a visible ski track in Routt county (steamboat), i guarantee that within 24 hous sleds will be there too. 80% of sledders here are family poeple cruising groomed roads and trails, the other 20% are slednecks that just don’t care about non-motorized users. Short of $50/ gal gas, or skiers with white parkas and M1garands it aint gonna decrease.

    Been to Folwler- Hiliard hut lately?- i was there in the 80’s when no one but a few skiers were near the place.

    Too many folks out there- maybe, but how many travel silently 5- 8 miles per day, vs 50 miles per day, with unmuffled noise revebrating across entire valleys?

  52. billy bob October 7th, 2014 6:00 pm

    Why don’t you skiiers somewhere there isn’t snowmobiles, oh wait you can’t, cuz you rely on the sled to get you there

  53. Jon February 17th, 2017 5:24 am

    What’s hilariously tragic about all of this is how many human-powered people believe that snowmobiles have the upper hand. When in fact, there is exponentially more wilderness available to you than there is mixed-use areas. For example, WA and OR barely has any terrain available to off trail snowmobiling. CO has the entire front range from WY to NM that is off limits to sleds. Gonzoskijohnny, you’re listing mixed-use areas like Buff Pass or Vail Pass, where you hate the snowmobiles, yet you could go into eagles nest or holy cross wilderness areas instead for the experience you are after. Or into the zirkels instead of Buff.

    My point is, if you don’t like sleds, go to the millions of acres of wilderness that already exists and stop stifling other human beings from connecting with the forests in their way.

    We need more people to be connected with the forests if we want our government to protect them, not the other way around. The USFS is under extreme threat from massive budget cuts, and the majority of Americans today have no connection to the outdoors. This is a huge problem for the Forest Service.

    Motorized and human powered people need to understand one another and align and work together to protect access for all.

    Also, motorized access allows people with age and physical barriers to enjoy the outdoors. It’s already painful enough that wheelchairs are included in the “mechanized” ban on wilderness lands.

    The selfishness needs to stop on both sides, if we are to ever find the right balance once and for all.

  54. See February 17th, 2017 8:16 am

    Are you sure that wheelchairs are banned in wilderness areas?

  55. kevin woolley February 17th, 2017 10:49 pm

    Jones Pass has plenty of snowmobile traffic as does Grand County and parts of Summit County, no shortage of places for snowmobile recreation in and near the front range in Colorado. I don’t mind touring in an area where there are people on a sled or two, but some areas, like the south side of Vail Pass, feel like sacrifice zones to the snowmobile crowd, especially on weekends, it’s so noisy that you feel like you’re skiing next to the freeway (which you kind of are anyway). Areas of concentrated snowmobile use aren’t much fun for people on foot. In crowded areas near large cities, I’m not sure there is room for much more snowmobile use, or there would be too little quiet. It’s nice that we have Eagles Nest Wilderness, but the practicality of winter touring in Colorado is that you can’t access most of that space without expedition style in the midwinter, most of us are looking for day tours of a few miles, with bigger trips in the spring.

  56. Lou 2 February 18th, 2017 4:57 am

    Hi Kevin, I’m glad you and a lot of other people are starting to “get it.” The “it” being that access to our amazing amount of legal Wilderness in the U.S. mountain west is the problem, and the solution. All it would take is enough people and the political will to end up with a few more plowed roads to parking for places that snowmobiles can’t go legally. I’m actually pretty surprised this has not been more of a movement already, it’s been frustrating to watch things not happen. Around our home in Colorado there was a movement to make even more legal Wilderness, which was well intentioned but missed the mark by a mile and actually might have made access to human powered ski touring even more difficult, not to mention restricting bicycles. Luckily that got defeated, for now. Meanwhile, if everyone complaining about snowmobiles would just organize and identify perhaps three places in Colorado where non motorized access could be created (plowed roads and parking), that would be so huge. Perhaps the USFS could stop “improving” jeep trails and allocate that money to winter access, or skiers could organize like snowmobilers and self-fund their parking and access. Lou

  57. Lou Dawson 2 February 18th, 2017 6:11 am

    See, I researched the wheel chair issue many years ago, my recollection is there is definitely an exception for wheel chairs, but I also recall they had to be non motorized and that the user had to be disabled. Seems like that could be a real can of worms, as I doubt there is anything in the rules that even defines what a wheel chair is. This leads to the usual take on the Wilderness Act, in that it is enforced by rule making that is often debatable. For example, horses cause more trail damage than mountain bikes, but horses feel and look more appropriate to what most people envision Wilderness should look like. Horses are allowed, bicycles are not. And so on. Lou

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