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IMPACT OF SNOWMOBILING

By: Kent Lester, Photo By: Mike Lester
10/10/2017

Someone once said: "If you really want to be proud of your country, get out and take a look at it!" Snowmobilers do that every time we go for a ride - and although the experience of riding a powerful vehicle is exhilarating, so is the experience of being completely immersed in a pristine winter environment.

Sometimes I think about riding my sled out of a shaded forest glade on a zero-degree January day into an open meadow where the winter sunlight beams down, then running along the backside of a village where just a few hundred feet away, people are bustling about, going through their daily lives, oblivious to the beauty and freedom that lies within shouting distance.

Some environmentalists will try to tell you snowmobiles aren't good for the eco-culture. These are the same ones who use major airlines at will to hop-skip across the continent so they can share their green message to the world.

They might need to learn that a single day spent on a snowmobile trail network reveals more appreciation for the environment than any number of lectures on a university campus.

Do snowmobiles compromise the flora and fauna and the air we breathe? As a total influence worldwide and given that so much progress has been made in clean technology the last decade, I'm shouting a profound "NO"!

Are we contributing to global warming and climate change? Certainly no more than a couple of thousandth percent points of what air traffic and industry pollutes in a single day.

I'm not meaning to condemn airlines or flying - we need to use these services ourselves sometimes. Rather it's a criticism of the 'experts' who will try to sell the lie that snowmobiling is some kind of major contributor to environmental doom because it's a fun and performance-driven motorized activity - a very soft target.

Frankly, although snowmobilers don't tend to stand on soapboxes and orate about how they respect the environment, we're out there amidst it, experiencing the beauty and fragility of a winter world 98-percent of the population are completely unaware of.

I haven't met too many snowmobilers who profess to being eco-greenies, but I've met dozens of snowmobile club volunteers who go to painful lengths to ensure no damage or footprint is left when building or grooming a trail.

These same saints are the ones who pick up the garbage left behind by a few lazy and inconsiderate participants who unfortunately are found in every activity mankind is involved in.

There's a big difference between preaching and doing. Every time you ride, be thinking about how you can enjoy it and then go home without leaving a mark.

Better yet, lift up your eyes every now and then from the 100 square feet of trail in front of you and take in the panorama surrounding you - and know this: You're one of the very few who gets to see it!