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Where Do You Stand on the Idea of Nonpolluting and Quiet Snowmobile/ATV Use on Crown Land? #1225
Back To Discussion List Written: 2004.12.10 by: Don Funk

Just out of curiousity, let's fast forward half a century or so and to a time when all snowmobiles and ATV's are powered by hydrogen fuel cells, which produce water vapour as exhaust, ie no pollution. The hydrogen used to power the cells is produced from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, or possibly even fusion power. The fuel cells power electric motors which are extremely quiet. What would your stand be now, on the use of snowmobiles and ATV's on crown land? And lets say there are dozen's and dozen's of these machines running rampant throughout a backcountry skiers favourite alpine area on any given day. How would you feel about this? The machines are quiet, don't pollute, and because they far outnumber the skiers by a huge margin, would leave the skier with little voice in the matter. Comments....


#441 - 2005.03.07 Don Funk - Government intervention
Personally, I think the only way the snowmobile issue in our backcountry will be resolved is through government intervention. Mountaineers, hikers, and environmentalists are a small group with little financial clout. It would require many voices to persuade the government into doing something about it. The current provincial government we have in BC is all about business (and money), and if your proposal doesn't contain one of those words, or will somehow get in the way of some revenue generator for the province (such as snowmobiling is), then I think it will likely fall on deaf ears. Perhaps Nancy may be on the right track in creating an organization to lobby the government into doing something. Maybe taking this issue to the federal government would be more effective, but I am not sure if this would be in their jurisdiction? Environment Canada is a federal division which regulates the air around us. Perhaps we need to send them pictures of skiers choking on the exhaust of snowmobiles!

#440 - 2005.03.04 Sandra McGuinness - Sled clubs in Canada all about access too
Some quick (but inflammatory) googles of sled clubs indicates that in Canada they are highly organized and all about continuing and increasing access to the backcountry. Discussions with others indicate that they also (the sled clubs) get considerable support from the manufacturers of sleds.

#439 - 2005.03.02 Nancy Mickelson - Lets work together
I found out the other day that entire organizations are dedicated to ensuring more access for motorized recreation (Blue Ribbon Coalition). This is in the USA but I fear there may be some lurking in Canada too. I would personally like to support an organization working specifically towards regulating motorized recreation. Is there one that already exists, and if not, how is one developed? I'm more than willing to put some time and effort into finding solutions starting today. Tomorow will be to late. So, what can I do? I'll e-mail the government and educated myself as much as possible, but I would really like to start working on some accomplishments. Anyone else? If so, where do we begin? It sounds like most of us have similar opinions and are passionate about them. Let's work together towards enjoying a peaceful backcountry again.

#437 - 2005.02.27 Doug Brown - Ban Them
Don is right, we just can't do the right thing and completely ban the ugly beasts. Maybe society will have progressed enough in 50 years that it will be done then.

I think we should do the same thing that was done to smokers: make little glass cages with no ventilation for the sled-heads to drive around in (2-stroke motors only). Then we could ski past and point at them as they choke on their own exhaust.

#430 - 2005.02.19 Paul Watt - clean sleds good
I use a snowmobile to access areas to ski and snowboard. I'd love a cleaner quieter sled. A lot of the skiers I know that hit the backcountry around here (Whistler) also use sleds to get in and out of different areas. Maybe purists from the concrete jungles that set aside a week to trudge up to a slope only to find it infested with snowmobilers are pissed, but every skier I know that has tried sledding to get to backcountry ski areas is an instant and complete convert. Make them clean, quiet, and ride them responsibly. Also, riding a sled in the mountains is great exercise, especially if you get stuck a lot.

#400 - 2004.12.16 Don Funk - Hybrid snowmobile
A hybrid snowmobile has been developed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the USA. Refered to as the Bucky 800D, it is a cost effective alternative for performance oriented riders seeking a cleaner, quieter sled than anything currently out there. It was designed as part of a competition to demonstrate what can be done. Noise and air emissions have been significantly reduced using a hybrid system (small 4 stroke engine in combination with an electric motor/generator). Here is the link to the website. This would help make snowmobiles somewhat more tolerable, but ironically the down side to this is that snowmobile associations are looking to these new technologies as necessary measures for the survival of their sport. But given that snowmobiling is not going to disappear overnight, new cleaner and quieter sleds may have the most significant impact in the short term. Regulating the sport would be much more challenging, taking more time and effort, but really is the long term solution to the problem.

#397 - 2004.12.14 Sandra McGuinness - Non polluting and quiet ...
... but I'd still hate to have them running around everywhere. I agree with Justin that only part of the issue is addressed that way, so maybe greenhouse gas emission is reduced but habitat destruction and degradation would be ongoing, as would be disturbance to wildlife and other non-motorized users. Plus, our overweight, diabetes ridden population with cardivascular disease from too much food and too little excercise would still be increasing exponentially.

#396 - 2004.12.11 Don Funk - I agree
I really feel that there is no place for motorized vehicular travel in our backcounty, particularly when they are used for recreation use only. Realistically, the snowmobilers and ATVers cannot be totally banned from our backcountry. I feel that the best solution would be to have designated places for them to go (ie a snowmobile or ATV park) This way it could be regulated more easily, and other benefits to the users could be accomplished such as trail grooming. Of course not everyone would want this, but as Justin says "There needs to be a more ethical and environmentally sensitive mentality established, now in the early years of this intrusive growth" Perhaps it may be a long road to get to this stage, but in this day and age, I think it is inevitable. But in any case, we all need to put forward an effort to make it happen.

#395 - 2004.12.11 Justin Brown - Exhaust, Noise only Part of the Problem
Making the machines quieter and cleaner burning would be beneficial in preserving air quality and reducing noise pollution, but it still only solves part of the problem. Snowmobiles need to be heavy for traction and this makes them more damaging to snowpack and environment. The combination of speed and being quieter also increases the chance of surprise ambushes on people and wildlife alike. As you say in the latter part of your paragraph, I think given the population increase fifty years from now along with the immense growth of the snowmobile/ATV industry, the alpine would definitely be overrun with these machines. Not to mention the seemingly growing human need for items which make our lives more "convenient" i.e. laziness. Skiing???... who does that anymore? I think that we, being more natural users of these places, have become more educated on the importance of keeping the "wild" in wilderness. There needs to be a more ethical and environmentally sensitive mentality established, now in the early years of this intrusive growth. Regulations would be a good place to start in any case.