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Where Do You Stand on the Idea of Snowmobile/ATV Use on Crown Land? #1219
Back To Discussion List Written: 2004.12.01 by: Justin Brown



#434 - 2005.02.20 Karaleen Westmoreland - Infringing on people's rights
I feel that this issue makes a good argument for separate areas for snowmobile, sorry, sled use. I suppose that someone should be allowed to ride their sled. (Yes, they should be quieter and less polluting but that is a whole other story...) But someone who has just put in a serious manual physical effort to reach a pristine alpine area also has rights. They should be allowed to enjoy the magnificent views and stillness of a remote area. They should also be rewarded with some safe fresh powder turns down a beautiful pitch that they so earned. Unfortunately the two user groups just don't mix. How unfair is it to the skier to just find out that the pitch he was about to descend has just been ripped up by a couple sledders seeing whose rig can blast futher up the pitch? Oh, and the other slope that the skier could use has just been avalanched by a sledder traversing and destabilizing the slope. Oh well, at least the skier can listen to the incessant revving of the engines... Point being, that each of the user groups should be allowed area to enjoy their chosen past-time. It makes sense that if one is willing to put in the physical effort to get to remote areas, it should be free of machines. Why not allow other areas closer to the roads and civilization to be for the sledders? I know policing it would be a nightmare but it is a nice thought...

#433 - 2005.02.20 Lee Shepherd - More on sleds.
A co-worker became a recent convert to recreational sledding. He started with a used 440 re-building project and quickly became accepted by the area snowmobile group (ooopps, I mean sledding group as I am informed that it's either a sled or a machine, NEVER a snowmobile) Within a month he had upgraded to 600, handing down the 440 to his 14 year old son who now figure 8's on the lake by dad's crown lease lake cabin with the other sled kids.. by end of last season the 600 had morphed to a '03 800 with a modified exhaust for a few extra HP's and sweeter (louder) sound. Generally he drives his F-150 4x4 10 miles home at lunch on Friday's to load the sleds, (can't leave them at the lease hold lake cabin for fear of theft of course)then back to work, then the 30 odd miles to the cabin (wood heat) for a weekend of recreational sledding, sometimes involving a posse of 6 - 12 sleds on a 4 - 8 hour round trip ride through the backcountry woods. Theoretically the sled is for access to ice fishing lakes but speeding down the frozen lake chain at max throttle seems a greater need. A few weekends back he informed me, somewhat proudly, somewhat sheepishly, that he had used $140 worth of gas in the 2 sleds over the weekend. The used 440 is now a new, out of the grate '01 440 for the 14 year old who now prefers sledding to house league hockey. Earlier this year my co-worker (out alone) flipped his sled on the just frozen lake, penetrated the crust and slid through 6 inches of slush, treating himself to 60 seconds of terror as he envisioned an undignified underwater end. Last season he nailed a rock on the same lake and could barely walk for a week. The fellow he bought the 800 from is now sledding again after breaking his plevis (numerous contusions and sprains as well)on a high speed flip. Fortunately his health benefits at work looked after his expenses for the year he has been off his job as an aircraft manufacturing structural engineer, including the payments on his truck. He and his wife upgrade their sleds yearly. My co-worker could not name a greenhouse gas if asked and believes global warming is junk science. He does not vote provincially or federally. His 2 stroke outboard plys the same lake waters in summer season. There are more of them than us, and quite frankly, I'm terrified.

#432 - 2005.02.19 Justin Brown -
Let's see... I love my family, I love my girlfriend, I love my dog, I love music, art and photography and I love beautiful and pristine mountain territory devoid of disrespectful human evidence and pollution and noise. To me it's a sad day when a human being claims to love a machine. I tollerate owning a vehicle (a modest and efficient one at that) only because I was born into an age where my livelihood is dependant on one. I don't have much more time than the average person either but I still make the effort to do what I love in a non-intrusive and respectful manor. It's why we were given legs. I love skiing too and probably just as much as the average sledder/ski-tourer but It's a matter of priority. Im sure a big reason one would feel the need for a sled to access more remote areas is because the "easy pickins" places are already crawling with hackers on sleds. I've ridden them before in the past and I'll admit at the time it was fun, but I've made the choice not to use one as a recreational tool because it's not all about me. There are other things that should be taken into consideration like the fact that there are other living things on this planet and sensitive habitats and environments that are totally being jeopardized.

Sadly, sleds are not ever going to disappear and neither are sea-doos and ATV's and dirtbikes and six-wheeled thingamadoos. I'm not saying that everyone that uses these machines are jerks but it would be nicer for all of us if a few more people had a look at the big picture instead of selfishly thinking short term.

#431 - 2005.02.19 Paul Watt - uhhh, I love my sled.
Well, I love my sled. I hate that it pollutes the earth, and it isn't exactly silent, but it gets me and a lot of other skiers into areas we wouldn't otherwise have time to get to. In fact, if you check the parking lots at Callaghan, Brandywine, or on the Hurley you'll see that probably half of the sledders are ski tourers or snowboarders heading to more remote slopes. A lot of people seem to think that if you own a sled you must be a jerk. I guess there are a lot of jerks out there and that sucks. But the real problem is that sleds are noisy and poluting. Instead of getting rid of them, they should be forced to be low then eventually non-polluting, and much quieter. Crown land is public land and if you are allowed to clearcut it, mine it, and dam it up, then you should be able to sled on it.

#399 - 2004.12.15 Steve Grant - More Preaching to the Converted
The same applies to silent, "non-polluting" helicopters and ATV's. The noise pollution is only a small part of the equation. Others are: lack of health benefits, disruption to wildlife, greenhouse gasses, social pollution.

To elaborate: Elite snowmobilers claim it's hard work. Yes, right up there with olympic x-c ski racing, I add sarcastically. Disruption to wildife and consumption of quiet natural places are only reduced a little by quiet machines. Hydrogen power does not reduce the resources needed to manufacture and transport the things. Even diesel pickups are not nearly as efficient as a bunch of skiers in a car. There is NO SPARE ELECTRICITY, regardless of how it is produced. Hydrogen merely moves the pollution upstream, and increases usage due to conversion losses. Renewable sources should be used to displace dirty sources, rather than power silly recreational toys.

Apply the same logic to heli-whatever. There's still enormous resource consumption on a recreational activity that does nothing to lower health care costs and contributes heavily to climate change. Then there's the aspect that these machines get the kind of people I go to the mountains to get away from, into the mountains.

Just wait until there are 4/6-legged people carrier/robots that can run up mountains and through the woods. Then we're really in for fun.

#398 - 2004.12.14 Sandra McGuinness - Snowmobiles and other non-essential and inefficient infernal combustion engines
Frank, I totally agree with you - the time for our society to continue to condone these activities is over. But, what do we do about it?

#394 - 2004.12.10 Frank W. Baumann - Snowmobiles and other non-essential and inefficient infernal combustion engines
How long are we as a society going to be able to afford to have snowmobiles, Hummers, SUV's that use more than 10 litres/100 km of fuel, etc. etc. run around just for the fun of it and consume a rapidly diminishing, non-renewable resource? Is this what the Kyoto Protocol is all about?

How long can we remain blissfully ignorant while the vast majority of drivers that cross the Lions Gate bridge have only themselves in the car, and therefore are using 2000 kg of steel, glass, and plastic to transport a 75 kg human being? How long can we afford to allow every generation of new car to be bigger, better, with more horsepower, just so that we can demonstrate how important we are every time we jump off from a stop light, or pass someone not moving at the speed limit plus 10%?

#392 - 2004.12.09 Don Funk - Sledding in designated areas
Sled tourism could still continue, but in a regulated manner in designated areas (not running around the entire countryside without any concern for anything or anyone). If sled tourism was properly regulated, then perhaps it would be viewed as a lesser evil in the eyes of all the other tourists who come here, for a more natural experience. And by requiring the sleds be licensed, emissions and noise pollution could be dealt with over time.

#391 - 2004.12.08 Drew Brayshaw - Motorized Tourism
One of the problems with "playing the tourism card" with respect to sleds is that there is a lot of sled tourism. You have only to sit on the side of the Coquihalla on a Saturday in winter and count the number of trucks towing sleds that go by to get an idea of the numbers. Or note the billboards on the highway for places like Merrit prominently featuring a snowmobile on the billboard. Around Whistler-Pemberton, too, there are companies offering snowmobile rentals, snowmobile tours, etc. I get the idea that because these are expensive machines that use a lot of gas the average snowmobiler spends much more in an average weekend than the average backcountry skiier does. So if it came down to a strict economic analysis of who is more desirable as a tourist the snowmobiler might outscore the skiier in the eyes of our revenue hungry government. For this reason I think it's better to focus on the environmental impacts when trying to designate snowmobile free areas rather than making economic claims that snowmobiles are bad for tourism.

#390 - 2004.12.07 Don Funk - Need for fundamental change
I think that there needs to be more done than just having individual boundaries drawn up between various recreational groups in the backcountry. I really feel that there is no place for motorized vehicles in the backcountry, other than, along access roads and to trail heads, or having designated recreational areas for snowmobiles and ATV's. And this could only be accomplished through government regulation. The current government may have no interest in this, but I don't think it should matter what government is in place. The government is supposed to be here to represent the people, and if "enough people" want change, then the government should respond. I think that there is a lot at stake. One of the largest industries in this province is tourism, and people come far and wide to see a "Super Natural BC". I'm sure the last thing tourists want to see or hear about, is the backcounty run amuck with noisy, stinky, polluting snowmobiles. With regulation, this would at least contain these activities to designated areas, while others, locals and tourists alike, could enjoy the fresh mountain air and the natural wilderness. This would also lessen the impact these machines have on wildlife. But looking at the way things are now, change certainly wouldn't happen overnight, even if we started immediately taking steps in the right direction. Of course, other benefits of discouraging snowmobile/ATV use and encouraging self propelled travel, are reduced pollution and green house gas emissions and the health benefits through physical exercise, which has both personal and financial effects. The government is supposed to be here to represent the people (in a democracy), and there are a lot of good things that could come out of regulating our backcountry. But I really think that we all need to "PUSH" for change, irregardless of who's in power.

#389 - 2004.12.07 Don Funk - Check out this site
I came across this web site (the truth about BC) and contains some interesting info about government records on energy and climate change, wildlife and parks, health and pollution, etc... On the front page is a quote from Gordon Campbell upon the swearing in of the cabinet on June 5, 2001;

"BC intends to lead in the creation of sustainable environmental stewardship. The Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection will ensure environmental protection and prudence are of the highest standards." Here is the website

#388 - 2004.12.07 Sandra McGuinness - Should skiers maintain a prescence?
It seems that when sleds move in skiers move out, but I wonder if in the long run, this is counter-productive. Not that I want to ski in a haze of blue sled smog, but the argument that seems to come from the sledders is "we never see skiers anyway, so why shouldn't we be here?" If the backcountry ski community wants to lobby for some areas of Crown land to be designated sled free, perhaps we have to suck up the fumes and keep skiing in sled trafficed areas?

There have been some small areas set aside as non-motorized in the Interior, notably around Invermere and Golden, but I'm not sure how well the sledders actually respect these closures, and the process that got the boundaries in the first place was under the Democrat government and isn't likely to be re-enacted under the Liberals.

#387 - 2004.12.06 Drew Brayshaw - Federations vs. Users
The Federation can promote all they want but how many snowmobilers do they represent? It could be analagous to the Climbers Access Society telling everyone that Horne Lake is offlimits to climbing, but individual climbers violating the ban and sneaking in to climb anyways. Unless the various federations, access groups etc represent a significant portion of the participants in their activity, they can take whatever position they want and it won't make a difference to the behaviour of individual users.

#386 - 2004.12.06 Chris Begley - From the BC Snowmobile Federation
Just worthy of a little laugh: "We pride ourselves as environmentalists and take great care to promote conservation and the careful use of our backcountry."

#385 - 2004.12.06 Drew Brayshaw - From the CBC
"Snowmobile noise case could reverberate in B.C. WebPosted Dec 6 2004 09:32 AM PST

NELSON, B.C. - Snowmobile riders in B.C. are worried that a recent class-action court case in Quebec could hurt their sport in this province.

People living near a popular snowmobile route in the Laurentians claimed noise from the machines was causing health problems.

They won their case - including compensation of more than $6 million from the province of Quebec and the regional municipality.

However, the snowmobilers themselves have not been hit with financial penalties.

But Pat Whiteway of the B.C. Snowmobile Federation is concerned that the Quebec case could lead to similar action in this province.

"Well I think it really does set a precedent, and you have to wonder where that might go," he says.

Whiteway says the sport isn't as big here as it is in Quebec - and few routes in B.C. are close enough to homes to cause a noise disturbance.

Still, he says many snowmobile routes are in areas enjoyed by other backcountry users, which can be a recipe for conflict.

"Where we may be close to some of the cross-country ski venues, there is the odd situation where there may be some conflict there," he says.

But Whiteway says those problems in B.C. have been solved by compromise. "

What compromise? Letting snowmobilers go anywhere they damn well please is "compromise?"

#383 - 2004.12.05 Jordan Peters - Wait/Hope for the Pedulum to Swing . . .
The current provincial government has no interest in the regulation of existing land use boundaries, nor in the creation of new ones. Existing snowmobile guiding businesses in the Whistler area have capitalized on the lack of planning and have blossomed to the point that no pro-business government would dare shut them down.

The old stand-by of always having Parks land as non-motorized areas is now a laughable relic -- sleds have colonized the Black Tusk area via the Microwave Tower road and frequently travel well into the Helm Creek area, as well as into traditionally non-motorized areas such as the Twin One headwaters near Joffre. Last I heard there were FOUR full-time winter Rangers patrolling for Parks in all of BC. The only insurance now of having a snowmobile-free experience is to ski in areas that include enough forest travel to make snowmobile access inconvenient (Marriot/Rohr, for example).

From fast-tracking the Flute summit land swap, to reversing land-use boundaries in the Dickson/South Chilcotin areas, the Liberal regime has absolutely no interest in enforcing a long -term vision of wilderness that sacrifices even the smallest possibility of business. Don's suggestion of individual lobbying of MLAs is the best way to go, but I would suggest that the community waits until the spring election to see if a government more favourable to wilderness planning comes to power. Backcountry skiers do not bring in enough money to the government coffers to be of any economic consequence, yet in our numbers we are able to have an influence in letter writing campaigns, if only because the motorized contingent is not very "literate" in this regard. The key is to become involved and to refuse to believe that someone else is already acting on the behalf of your beliefs.

#382 - 2004.12.04 Don Funk - Contact your MLA
It seems everyone (commenting here on this site) wants some kind of regulation over the rampant usage of snowmobile and ATV traffic in the backcountry of BC. Personally, I don't think there is any one single solution to this problem. Perhaps a comprehensive plan would help to regulate the usage in the backcountry. I think that the only approach is to have government intervention, where rules, fees, restricted areas of usage, and perhaps even licensing would be put in place. To be effective, I think it would have to be run and regulated by the government. Of course this may impact non motorized forms of recreational access as well. And even then, such a plan would not be 100 percent, as anyone could come along and break the rules. Enforcement could be put in place, but would require huge resources which would not be practical and not necessarily effective. But with random checking, and imparting a sense of responsibility on the snowmobile and ATV members, perhaps this could have an affect on the rampant usage which is going on now. I think that there is a lot at stake. Perhaps the most important is the impact on wildlife in sensitive areas. So its not just people like us who (want to) enjoy a peaceful non polluting experience in the backcountry. To do something about it contact your MLA. Many voices could have an impact. Here is the BC government land and water website.

#381 - 2004.12.03 Steve Grant - Link to the CBC story about the class action lawsuit against snowmobilers My pet angle these days is that given the pollution/carbon cost/climate change aspects of motorized recreation such as snowmobiling and powerboating, contrasted to their limited benefits to anything, government policies such as land management and fee structures should be set up to limit and discourage motorized recreation, while supporting recreations with beneficial aspects.

How can government (which is us, the citizens) wring its hands about pollution and health care costs, while marginalizing all self-propelled outdoor recreations?

I mean, if motorized recreation is so great, why not take it up a few notches and subsidize everyone playing in jet fighters?

I've also heard that personal watercraft and snowmobile sales have tanked. One of the big ones, I believe Polaris, has quit making snowmobiles, and Bombardier laid off hundreds of people who make these things.

#380 - 2004.12.03 Scott Nelson - Interresting Article in Today's National Post
Judge's order closes 'snowmobile highway'

MONTREAL - In a decision that could help restore silence to noisy backwoods across the country, a Quebec judge has closed a 38-kilometre snowmobile trail and awarded millions of dollars to neighbours of the ''snowmobile highway.''

This probably means nothing for the rest of the country, but it may be a sign of things to come. Personally I can't stand the noise and stench of snowmobile engines as it really ruins whatever sort of wilderness experience I'm trying to get. I think the only chance we have is through limited restrictions on snowmobile use, otherwise snowmobilers will eventually displace backcountry skiers from every destination outside of parks. Mandatory 4 stroke engines and mufflers would go a long way to diffusing conflicts between the two groups, especially in forested areas like the callaghan valley, which seems to be on the verge of a skier vs. snowmobiler explosion.

#379 - 2004.12.02 Mike Guite - Regulate the stinkpots.
Not that regulation rids the world of idiots, but it certainly thins them out through education. Most of the bad experiences I've had with ATVs and snowmobiles has been when kids were driving them. With PWC's (Personal Water Craft, the Coast Guard's name for Sea-doos) since 2002 all operators are required to have an operator's card, and people younger than 16 are prohibited from operating them. Part of the training is recognizing zoned no-go areas. And since BC has signed onto the Contraventions Act, any peace officer can write tickets on the spot for offences, for both the operator and the owner. A similar system is needed for snowmobiles and ATV's on Crown land, so that there is at least a threat to bad actors, even if it would only by marginally enforceable.

I do see the value in these machines as tools, but for me the idea of using them for 'fun' is a misguided waste. Also, 2-stroke engines should be banned, and all remaining ones put in museums.

If nothing else, perhaps the 2010 biathlon in the Callaghan valley will be a thoroughly entertaining event. I think I'll go watch.

#378 - 2004.12.02 Chris Begley
Personally, I hate them. Snowmobiles, ATVs and my biggest hate the Seadoo. However, is that justification for banning them? I don't think it is. Like it or not, these people are citizens too, pay taxes etc. It is not enough to state that they are damaging the environment and that they therefore shouldn't be there - As stewart notes so are we when we drive to the trailhead.

I think there should be some regulation. Designation of one area as a snowmobile area. If I know that Brohm Ridge and Brandywine and Powder Mountain are all snowmobile tracks, I will go to some other area, as long as everyone respects the boundaries as drawn up. Crown Land is there for everyone to use, even those driving obnoxiously loud machines.

#377 - 2004.12.02 Justin Brown - Some stats to choke on...
Besides being obnoxiously loud and wreaking havoc on the environment,

two-stroke snowmobiles dump up to 30% of their fuel unburned into the snow.

7 hours of two-stroke engine use produces more smog forming pollution than a modern car creates in over 140,000 km on the road. That's like 7 years of normal vehicle use!

Snowmobile sales in Canada jumped up by 45% in 2003 from the previous year and continue to increase in popularity.

Im not down on the people who choose to ATV or snowmobile on designated and appropriate trails and areas but I definitely see a need for growing concern and stricter regulations for how they are both manufactured AND where they should be able to ride and NOT ride. Logging roads are inevidibly going to be travelled by motor vehicles of all sorts as long as they are passable and that should be fine. I dont feel guilty using these roads in a 4x4 as access through land that has already been devoid as an undisturbed habitat. However, we all know how sensitive our alpine and subalpine regions are and I dont feel that they are any place for these types of machines.

Crown Land becomes useless as an undisturbed and quiet sanctuary for people choosing to enter and/or travel through in a self-propelled fashion when it is being used also by noisy, polluting and damaging machines. Not to mention the subject of the wildlife it terrorizes (I realize this isn't that much of a concern with most people). You would think the law would state that this land may be used freely as long as it is done in a nondisturbing way. The only ones that benefit from the use of these vehicles on this land are the riders themselves. I personally avoid areas that I know are crawling with snowmobiles or ATV's :i.e.(Pemberton Icefield, just about anywhere along the Coquihalla and much of the Revelstoke area), just to name a few. Id love to see and ski the Pemberton Icefield but it might as well not even exist to people like me who are there to see it in a natural, exploratorive way! The place is crawling with sleds!!

#376 - 2004.12.02 Drew Brayshaw - Two Solitudes
It seems in BC we are moving towards a "two solitudes" approach. We have Parks where one is required to pay a substantial fee for access and use, but in which motorized vehicles are restricted. Then we have Crown Land where anything goes, but there are no fees or regulations. You can camp, hike, ATV etc where you want.

I don't think we want to get in a fight with ATV users and snowmobilers over their use of Crown land in general. There are more of them than there are of us. The current Government will not disenfranchise a more substantial user group to appease a smaller group.

#375 - 2004.12.02 Shelley Wales - Hate the noise, Hate the smell but...
I used to dislike them so much and would silently (and some times verbably) curse them when they interupted one of my trips. But after a few years of living in Nova Scotia (aka ATV Land) and after seeing a family up by Twin Lakes (mom, dad, daughter and son) immensly enjoying themselves, and running into nothing but polite and curtious ATV and dirt bike users over the last few years, I have come to the conclusion that they enjoy being out there as much as I do (whatever their reason). So, they should be allowed, BUT as Stewart said strictly regulated as they do have a nasty effect on the enviroment and do stink. Perhaps they should be restricted to deactivated roads, old pack trails, and trails that already see alot of mountain bike, horse and cattle use, after all the physical impact is similar (Aside from the oil slicks, noise and clouds of exhast) with the wear on the trail and in the case of the horses and cows the smell and puddles of excrement. Now snowmobiles... UG! Really have no tollerance for them, but I guess the same would apply, but man would they be harder to regulate as trails are covered in the winter so you couldn't limit them to trails only within physical boundries... a really tough one. Think ATV's and snowmobiles need to be looked at separatly.

#374 - 2004.12.02 Stewart Douglas - well, ain't this a sticky one!
While I feel that everyone has the right to enter and enjoy the backcounty, I prefer a more natural approach. But I might be a bit of a hypocrite. I say that there is no place in the backcountry for atv's and snowmobiles. However, I access the backcountry with a 4x4 (usually along logging roads both activated and de-activated). So am I part of the problem too?

When I was coming back from Canadian border peak last weekend I was put upon by a lot of atv's. I had to hike with their stink and noise for 30 minutes. It was awful! But they seemed nice and looked like they were really enjoying the environment (might have just been their joy in ripping up the soil).

So, I'm a little surprised to say that I'm changing my story. They have a right to get at crown land, but their access should be strongly controlled. By who, I don't know. Maybe by each forest district.