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Home » New West Network Topics » Travel & Outdoors » Snow Blog » Will Closing the ‘Snowmobile Loophole’ Lead to Shutting Down All Motorized Rec on Public Lands?
The battle over backcountry access is back on. This time, the Winter Wildlands Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to human-powered snow sports, has taken the lead, filing a petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service related to the way snowmobiles are regulated on National Forest lands. Their argument? That over-snow vehicles (aka snowmobiles) should fall under the same oversight rules that govern off-road use in the summer. In other words, they feel it is time to close the so-called “snowmobile loophole.” “This is really about saying, ‘Listen, snowmobiles are off-road vehicles.’ Let’s get rid of this clause that deals with them differently and just manage them like all other off-road vehicles,” says Mark Menlove, executive director of the Winter Wildlands Alliance. “We’re going to be proactive and design areas where snowmobile use is appropriate, but there will be areas of the winter forest that are closed to motorized use just as they are in the summer.”

Will Closing the ‘Snowmobile Loophole’ Lead to Shutting Down All Motorized Rec on Public Lands?

The battle over backcountry access is back on.

This time, the Winter Wildlands Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to human-powered snow sports, has taken the lead, filing a petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service related to the way snowmobiles are regulated on National Forest lands. Their argument? That over-snow vehicles (aka snowmobiles) should fall under the same oversight rules that govern off-road use in the summer.

In other words, they feel it is time to close the so-called “snowmobile loophole.”

“This is really about saying, ‘Listen, snowmobiles are off-road vehicles.’ Let’s get rid of this clause that deals with them differently and just manage them like all other off-road vehicles,” says Mark Menlove, executive director of the Winter Wildlands Alliance. “We’re going to be proactive and design areas where snowmobile use is appropriate, but there will be areas of the winter forest that are closed to motorized use just as they are in the summer.”

Some 90 other recreation and conservation groups have signed onto the petition, which seeks to amend the Forest Service’s 2005 Travel Management Rule. That rule, according to Menlove, was instituted in an effort to better manage ATV and motorcycle use in the National Forests, but left out specific guidelines for winter management.

“There is still a clause in there that allows the responsible official at the local level to propose changes to the winter-use rule, at which point all the procedural elements of the travel management plan come into play, but it is completely up to their discretion,” he says.

Sean Stevens with Oregon Wild, one of the groups that signed on in support of the petition, says that carving out an exemption for over-snow travel really doesn’t make sense when you consider the impact that snowmobiles can have in the backcountry.

“Our general take is that motorized use, whether in the summer or the winter, tends to be noisier, more dangerous, and more damaging to our wildlands than more traditional outdoor recreation pursuits,” he says. “A planning process to figure out where it is and is not appropriate for snowmobiles to go on the National Forest will help both snowmobilers and traditional outdoor enthusiasts by reducing conflict between users and protecting important and sensitive places.”


Not surprisingly, talk like that has snowmobilers worried and has generated some stiff opposition to the petition, especially in the West where snowmobiling is a popular and profitable activity.

“The Winter Wildlands group and all the other people that are involved with this petition are just anti-snowmobile,” says Robbie Holman, president of the Montana Snowmobile Association. “The only reason they’re doing this is so that, if it prevails, they can start in on limiting numbers, perhaps like they did in Yellowstone. Eventually the goal is to have no motorized recreation on national lands.”

As it stands, Holman explains, about 98 percent of the public forests in Montana are closed to snowmobiles. In the Flathead National Forest near his home, for instance, snowmobilers have access for only 131 days of the year and only then on about 2 percent of the land.

“The thing is, there are differences between summertime and wintertime. Certainly with four-wheelers and motorcycles, designated routes make sense, since they’re touching the ground and disturbing the dirt. But where we ride, we’re probably 4 to 5 feet above the ground, so there’s no environmental reason to keep us on designated routes like they do in the summer; it’s just two different things,” says Holman.

Gregg Mumm, executive director of the Pocatello, Idaho-based BlueRibbon Coalition, is concerned about unnecessary new regulations, pointing to the long history of successful snowmobile use all over the West.

“Snowmobiles have been successfully managed for years in cooperation with state clubs and associations,“ he says. “If there was ever a pattern of sound management practices that work it would be the management of snowmobiles. This is yet another salvo in the effort to move motor recreation from public lands; same agenda different venue.”

In addition, he says, issues like this are rarely as simple as they seem.

“Interest groups have been after snowmobiles since the beginning of the management process, and unfortunately experience teaches us that the Winter Wildlands Alliance and their supporters will advance the interests of their well-monied constituencies at the expense of jobs and rural communities that will suffer if they receive the closures they’re seeking.”


But is that true? Is this really about eliminating snowmobiles entirely and turning public lands over to the hikers and skiers?

The Winter Wildlands Alliance naturally says “no,” arguing the real focus here is on leveling the playing field for all users.

“In no way are we suggesting that snowmobiles should be eliminated or that they don’t have a place on Forest Service land,” says Menlove. “It’s a popular form of winter recreation and it has a place, it’s just not something that needs to be every place. The idea that this is an effort to eliminate snowmobiles everywhere is just absurd.”

As it stands, he says, there are a few forest units that have elected to develop their own winter travel plans, though less than half a dozen have complete plans in place. “Even the most restrictive ones still leave most of the forest open to snowmobilers,” he says.

But BlueRibbon’s Mumm has a point. Snowmobiling is a significant economic driver in many parts of the rural West — think sled sales, tour operations, maintenance, etc. — and further regulation would likely take a bite out of that income stream.

This isn’t a small constituency we’re talking about, either. According to the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, there are about 1.65 million registered snowmobiles in the U.S., accounting for some $22 billion in economic activity annually. Add in Canada and you’re looking at another 765,000 snowmobiles and another $6 billion U.S. In addition, more than 90,000 full-time North American jobs are generated by the snowmobile industry.

And these are active users. The average snowmobiler rides more than 1,400 miles per year and spends some $4,000 annually on snowmobile-related recreation.


For now, however, this is all still just talk. The Winter Wildlands Alliance’s petition has been making the rounds in Washington since August and the organization is still waiting to hear if the USDA and the Forest Service intend to move forward with their proposals. Even if the agencies do decide to act, there is still at least a year-long process of public hearings, debates and approvals ahead before any new regulations would take effect.

Still, the effort’s backers are optimistic.

“We think it’s a good time for this,” Menlove says. “Since all of these forests and their various users and stakeholders have just gone though the travel planning process for summer use, that should be a real advantage when it comes to getting the winter plans together more expediently. We think it makes perfect sense to move on this sooner rather than later.”

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  1. “Will Closing the ‘Snowmobile Loophole’ Lead to Shutting Down All Motorized Rec on Public Lands?”

    No. Of course not.

    The FS has abdicated their responsibility to effectively manage snowmobiles – just like they had abdicated on summer OHV use until 2005. Snowmobile rules were put in place in the 70s when the 45 hp machines couldn’t leave a groomed trail without getting stuck, now 200 hp powder sleds can tear up entire landscapes in extreme terrain in minutes. Regulation hasn’t kept up with technology. In many places close to communities, reckless high marking and abusive rider behavior are the norm.

    The decision to exempt snowmobiles from the 2005 OHV rule was political – it’s time to correct that oversight. Thanks Winter Wildlands!

  2. As someone who only hikes and camps, I don’t think recreational machines have any place within the National Forest. Dirtbikes and big trucks already cause enough noise and damage in the summer, allowing snowmobiles just allows the noise and damage to continue year-round.

    The comments here claim that snowmobiles are always 4-5 feet above the ground, but that’s just ignorant. Surely there are places where you’re crossing a small stream, a muddy flat, or crushing sapling trees and plants that may be unseen below several feet of snow but have just as much of a right to live as you do.

    It also seems like snowmobiles make winter poaching easier. Get in, shoot some elk, sled it out, no rangers around to stop you because (as was stated here) there’s 4-5 feet of snow on the ground.

    Also, overt ecosystem damage is only one aspect of the conversation. Snowmobiles also pollute and make a lot of noise. People that do cold-weather camping and hiking do so for a unique type of quiet solitude, which is spoiled by the roar of those 200HP engines tearing up the place.

    In my opinion, public lands should be completely free of motorized recreational vehicles. If you need to use a snowmobile to haul yourself across the winter landscape, do it on your own land.

  3. First “me onlys) wanted snow mobiles out of Yellowstone, saying all of the NFS land was open for snowmobiles, now the truth is out, they do not intend to share anything with anybody, especially those they consider a lesser class, and just not fit to be on the same land. They are to work and fund the public lands for the “good” people to use exclusively.

  4. 98% of public lands closed to snowmobiles?

    Sounds like Robbie Holman from the Montana Snowmobile Association has been inhaling too much of his own two-stroke exhaust. If you check with the Flathead National Forest that Holman complains about you’ll find that more than half the acreage there is open to snowmobiles. And in Montana as a whole there are 12 million acres of national forest lands open to snowmobiles. This is hardly a case of snowmobiles being shut out.

  5. So if there are 12 million acres of forest land, why do you need to forbid anyone to use any of it? Why not go where there are no snowmobiles yourself?

  6. I’m not a member of any group; but it would suit me to a T if all motorized vehicles had to be licensed and subject to traffic rules and regulations.
    It would be damned nice to go somewhere without worrying about some damned fool running me over with a motorized missile…

  7. Amazing how the “Chicken Little” phenomena can take hold, where people sweat bullets about their worst case scenarios that could never happen.
    Regulating snowmobiles and other off-road vehicles is an old fight, pitting no-limit anarchists against those who call for reasonable regulations and compromise, allowing the motorheads to have fun in their areas and the folks who don’t like the noise, fumes, wildlife harrassment and damage to the environment to have places where they can get away from the bigger toys for bigger boys crowd.
    Some motorized recreationists will never be convinced otherwise, that there’s some nefarious “plot” to drive them off of federal lands entirely.
    Of course, if gasoline ever hits $5-$10 or more per gallon, motorized recreation will become a moot issue.

  8. I am appalled by the ignorance of the people who want to regulate (read shut down) backcountry snowmobile riding on USFS land. We leave no tracks that last longer than a few days. We do not harm anything. We do access some incredibly rugged and beautiful country that skiers and snowshoers do not access because it is is too far and too rugged for them to get there.

    I spent an enjoyable day in Boulder/White Clouds two winters ago. There were three of us and we never saw another human being (skier or snowmobile rider) during the whole sunny and beautiful day. It would have taken a backcountry skier three days to get where we went assuming that he/she wanted to get there. It snowed the next day and our tracks were obliterated. No one would have been able to tell that we were there.

    I am not a huge fan of the Tea Party. However, I believe that they and others in Congress will not allow any further regulation of snowmobile use on USFS land. The reality is that if it were not for money coming from people that don’t live in the West, the environmental groups that are trying to alter our way of life would have no voice in this debate. I am concerned that this debate is being driven by many people who live in cities on the coasts.

  9. — To those folks who think snowmobiles tear up the landscape, I dare you to put your assumptions aside and try it once. And if you really want to see the big picture, come back the next summer and see if you can tell where the snowmobiles were. Except for marked/maintained trails I’m betting you’ll have no idea.

    — The idea that the same regulations that govern summer OHV use can be equally applied to winter use is just laughable. To those who don’t think snowmobiles are regulated, I submit the sticker checks we have with the rangers nearly every time we go out.

    — Outside of wanting to set the foundation for complete elimination, I can’t think of any reason the local regulations aren’t fully appropriate. We’ve been to public lands were only groomed trail riding is allowed and we’ve been to areas where open riding is allowed. Isn’t it fair for the local park service and local residents to work together to decide IF public use is endangering the land (or not) and how they see balancing public use and enjoyment with good stewardship of the land and it’s resources.

    –Although this article is about extending the OHV regs to cover snowmobiles, I wanted to point out that every summer there are public meetings in our state addressing off road use and which, if any trails to close to public use. Every single meeting, there are people who fly in from other states to sit in this meeting and propose closing every single trail (each, one at a time). These people have never even RIDDEN said trails, nor are they local residents who may be impacted. I think most folks have no idea stuff like this happens.

    — Finally, as a family who enjoys motorized recreation as a family sport (as well and skiing, hiking, and mountain biking) I think it’s something between hilarious and preposterous that people think we don’t care about or for the land. We spend as much or more time on public lands, and because we want to be able to continue to enjoy these opportunities for decades to come, it certainly behooves us to do everything we can to care for it as well. But caring for it is different then closing it.

  10. Snowmobiles–along with any and all ATVs– are simply and extension of the encroachment of [i]homo sapiens[/i] onto the shrinking world left to other sentient creatures…

  11. Funny how we vote to keep are lands open by MAJORITY that little clause that our country was built on and when the environmentalist don’t like the way it turns out they end up suing for control.

    This is how it works. We by MAJORITY like our lands open for use wither it be hiking, dirt bike, or snowmobiles. We will not lose because history has proven that real AMERICANS do NOT lose. Even when you think you are winning you are not.

    Its easy to see who is a real American!

  12. Great to see a possibility of management of the current free-for-all of snowmobiles going anywhere and expanding constantly on public lands!

    It is always entertaining to see the prose of the snowmobile guys. Did any of them go beyond the 6th Grade? Honestly, their comments are often similar to adolescent boys arguing about the size of their anatomy and imagined prowess!

  13. Families ski or snowshoe on public lands. Snowmobile riders like to talk about sharing, being Americans, yadda yadda. All kinds of people do not ride snowmobiles, easily greater numbers than the snowmobile elitists! Lots of names thrown out by some saying that they support snowmobile riding. they call themselves families, Americans, admirers of nature…ha!….spoiled brats perhaps who cannot get along or share public lands!

  14. Jack, where in the world are you getting your facts?? This very article discusses the fact that many local areas have regulations and restrictions on snowmobiling. How does that turn into “the current free-for-all of snowmobiles going anywhere?”

    The Dixie National Forest in Utah restricts snowmobiling to trail riding in most (if not all) of the park. What exactly is wrong with local regulation?

    I’m sure families ski and snowshoe, but they also snowmobile. As a parent of three young children, taking a week long back country snowshoe trip is unrealistic. Snowmobiling for an afternoon with the kids is not. Again, your assumptions just show your narrow mindedness.

  15. One thing that seems to be forgotten every time a discussion of regulation and closing areas comes up, is the fact that there are already several hundred MILLION acres of Wilderness land which is CLOSED to ALL motorized and mechanized recreation. I always read the argument that the forest is being “over-run by snowmobiles going everywhere” but if you take a few minutes to look at a national forest map, you will see MANY Wilderness areas across the Western US in addition to local ‘Non-Motorized’ winter recreation areas that are set aside specifically for quiet, non-motorized access. I find it funny to to read the percentages of who is allowed what and the Damage that the Snowmobiles do, it is quite the opposite.

    As someone who is an avid, responsible snowmobiler and outdoor enthusiast, I spend a lot of my free time in the forest all year round and I take note of the conditions around me. Go to any popular sledding area and you WILL NOT see any evidence that a sled was ever there come summertime, I have literally Thousands of photos to prove my statement. On the other hand, go to any Hiking trail and you will see lasting damage… ruts in the soil, vegitation destroyed, everything you uneducatedly claim snowmobiles do and 10 times more.

    I do not attack your right to enjoy the public land as you see fit, I think it’s great that you can hike 100% of public land in the United States, but when I insulate myself on to of 4 to 15 ft of snow so that I never touch a single blade of grass, I am now the bad guy destroying the great outdoors and must be stopped.

    Take a step back and look at the differences with an un-biased set of eyes, the physical damage that is claimed by the WWA and its supporters is not occuring by snowmobilers who don’t touch the ground.

  16. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires access to all public places so I would think that applies here. I am not saying there should be wheelchair ramps everywhere. But access should not be limited to only those who are physically fit enough to hike, snowshoe or cross country ski.

    Furthermore, as an aging boomer who once enthusiastically hiked, snowshoed and cross country skiied through much of the American west, I would sincerely like to continue but my worn out knees prevent this now unfortunately. Would it be too much to ask for all Americans regardless of physical limitations to have access to our public lands?

  17. Larix, You are not conveying the entire truth with YOUR OWN PROOF.


    The majority of Wilderness sources are administered by the U.S. Forest Service, 399 units
    comprising 34,676,493 acres.
    American Government; Geography
    Page 107
    Ӣ The National Park Service manages the most Wilderness acres, 44 units on
    43,007,316 acres.
    Ӣ The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service manages 75 units on 20,685,372 acres.
    Ӣ Bureau of Land Management was not included in the 1964 Wilderness Act and it
    wasn’t until 1976 that the Federal Land Policy and Management Act gave authority
    to the BLM to inventory and recommend lands to be added to the wilderness
    system. They have 136 units comprising 5,227,063 acres.

    Add together ALL the Wilderness managed by all mentioned servicing agencies contained in your source report and that adds up to

    103,596,244 Acres of Wilderness

    as of the date of that report (I didn’t see a date)

    That is over 100 million acres as I stated.

    By the way, I take Extreme Offense to your calling me a “Motorhead Elitist”, I have not insulted you in any way, and am respectfully sharing my opinion and a few facts. I ask you to treat me with the same Respect I am showing you. Thank You.

  18. Courtesy of

    Creation and Growth of the National Wilderness Preservation System

    “When the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964, 54 areas (9.1 million acres) in 13 states were designated as wilderness. This law established these areas as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Since 1964, the NWPS has grown almost every year and now includes 756 areas (109,494,428 acres) in 44 states and Puerto Rico. In 1980, the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) added over 56 million acres of wilderness to the system, the largest addition in a single year. 1984 marks the year when the most new wilderness areas were added.”

    109+ million acres of Wilderness are already proctected and devoted specifically to Non-motorized and non-mechanized use in addition to any public designated non-motorized recreation areas. When you get right down to it there are literally over a hundred million Acres free of any type of machine, motor, bicycle or other device that may contain moving metal parts.

    When you get right down to asking for places that can be set aside for use as ‘quiet, natural’ areas to enjoy nature, You fail to realize all the areas you already have. More to the point of this discussion, if you haven’t taken the opportunity to get out and ride a snowmobile yourself, you should, it would help you to understand first hand the REAL effects of a sled on the forest, they really are less drastic than you claim them to be.

  19. All of the land [u]can[/u] certainly be completely corrupted by motorized vehicles. The question which should be answered has to do with whether or not it [u]should[/u] be.

  20. Unfortunately there is abusive language here, likely from punks with keyboard courage. As a matter of fact, snowmobile riders are usually just normal polite people, unlike the individuals making comments here.

    Above hateful and stereotyping words are uncalled for and are inaccurate. Next, we perhaps will hear how tough are guys who push a throttle and lean while riding a snowmobile up mountains!

    To the foul word writers above- grow up, go finish 8th Grade to develop a vocabulary. Many, in my experience doing both types of sport, many who use skis or snowshoes are very fit, very capable at all levels, and are often accomplished professionals, not really of the category described above. Get over your schoolboy ideas and blue-collar anger and deal with reality.

    The reality is that winter non-motorized users are the significant majority. The time is coming for more reasonable management of the Forest to control the snowmobile free-for-all!

  21. Larix,

    I appologize.

    I made a mistake.

    There are not Hundreds of millions oaf acres of wilderness.

    There are however OVER 100 MILLION ACRES of wilderness, THAT has been proven.

    Let’s clear up a couple more misconceptions you have about myself AND many other sledders.

    I am not a wildlife hater, I am not a destructive forest user, I often pack out MORE than I pack in to keep the forest looking as good as I can. I don’t chase wildlife, I don’t disturb the ground, I don’t run an excessively loud machine, I don’t sneak up to wildlife undetected and startle them at close range.

    I do contribute to my local economy, I do offer assistance to any person in need, I do anything I reasonably can to ‘leave no trace’. I do respect wilderness boundries and stay where I am allowed to be, I do slow to an idle when I encounter pedestrians on the trail, I do stop at a respectful distance when I encounter wildlife. I do pick up after myself and others as I mentioned above, and I respect my environment, it’s dangers, it’s beauty, and it’s fragility. I am a hardworking Catholic American that believes in treating other’s fairly and being thankful for everything I have been given and worked for. I pay my taxes, and occasionally give to charity. I firmly believe in treating others as you would want to be treated, and think that any level of violence or destruction is too much.

    I respect your opinion and your intentions of protecting the forest in the manner that you would prefer, but I DO NOT agree with all of your methods to do it. To be perfectly honest I find you closed-minded and I think you will never wish to participate in a motorized activity if you had a gun to your head. I hike, I camp,, I boat, I ride a four-wheeler, and sledding is my one true passion in life. The outdoors is in my blood, There is not a day that goes by that I don’t wish I was up in the mountains experiencing the beauty it has to offer, it is my back yard, one that I respect, one that I care for, and that I enjoy.

    Non-motorized recreation is a great way to experience the great outdoors, and one that you can do ANYWHERE, that is what is so great about it. Motorized recreation has a place in the forest, and your dis-approval of it is your choice. If you look at a map and check out how much area you have to enjoy, you will see there is FAR more than what I am lucky to have (about 100 million acres more to be exact)

    Go ahead, call me an elitist who wants everything for me and nothing for you, You will find that to be incorrect. I want to share with you, you want me gone.

    I am a sledder, I am a responsible forest user, and you will find many more who are also.

    I am sorry, I meant to keep it short, but as you can see I am quite passionate about the forest and my belief in equal opportunity and equal access for all.

  22. Seth, that is one of the best replies I have seen in a long time. I have been around for a very long time on this earth and it is is really disturbing to see the blind hatred that seems to be directed at anyone who is different or thinks different. I had thought our country had long since progressed beyond that sort of thing instead of insisting that some stay “in their place”. I wish we could all share.
    I have never been on a snowmobile in my life and probably will never be, but that does not mean that no one else should be allowed to use them. Every time we take rights away from one person or group of people to benefit us in some way we all lose.

  23. And through all the name calling and crying, still no one can give me a good reason why LOCAL management is not a good and viable solution. And most of the non-snowmobiling arguments serve to illustrate the very point that snowmobiles and a winter environment ARE different the OHV’s and a summer environment and thus should not be regulated as one and the same.

    Why are wolverines not a bigger subject? Because they’ve been virtually non existent in Montana for nearly 100 years. The fact that they are making a comeback in spite of more human interaction then ever is fabulous. If there are a handful of denning wolverines in a particular area of the state, then let the LOCAL management restrict ALL access (foot and motorized) in that area. That’s the very advantage of local management, they can respond to the specific needs of a very individual ecosystem.

    As far as your stereotypes and name calling, I find most of it humorous as I’m just about as opposite as you get! As a woman I’m certainly not a testosterone laden motor head. We enjoy snowmobiles and ATV’s, but we also enjoy mountain biking and hiking. Although I’m a babywearer, the later two activities are more challenging, as we have three young children who don’t have the endurance and abilities of adults, thus motorized recreation still gives us the ability to enjoy more of the outdoors with our entire family. We support safe riding for youth, enjoy supporting local economies (as small business owners ourselves), gladly buy our stickers, pay our fees and have no issues with abiding by local regulations that vary by location. We do our best to call out bad riding behavior if/when we see it in winter and summer alike because we realize that one bad apple gives agenda laden people ammunition to criticize the majority of reasonable and safe riders. We support programs like “Tread Lightly” that encourage good stewardship and youth education. There is room for balanced use.

    If you’re going to use statistics, please use something that’s less then a DECADE+ old. And btw, I am all for citing more people for unlawful behavior if they are doing so. So pursue the lax enforcement of law, instead of further restricting lawful use.

  24. Exactly Larix! Let’s talk about the topic at hand. But I still haven’t heard why local management is so awful (many local areas already restrict ALL motorized access or limit it to trails only). Why is that bad?

    Or a reasonable explanation of why you think the summer/OHV environment is the same as a winter/snowmobile environment and should be regulated as one and the same. You guys have stated yourselves that wildlife concerns are different in the winter.

  25. “Wolverine gene flow across a narrow climatic niche”

    “Effective population sizes in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, where most of the wolverines in the contiguous United States exist, were calculated to be 35 (credible limits, 28–
    52) suggesting low abundance.”

    Michael K. Schwartz, Jeffrey P. Copeland, Neil J. Anderson, John R. Squires, Robert M. Inman, Kevin S. McKelvey, Kristy L. Pilgrim, Lisette P. Waits, and Samuel A. Cushman (2010). Retrieved 2010-10-14.

    Manuscript received 7 July 2008; revised 4 February 2009;
    accepted 6 February 2009.

  26. I didn’t say they had been non existent. There are approx. 10 wolverines harvested in Montana each year, which seems like a pretty high number for an animal with such a low abundance. And snowmobiles are really the wolverines biggest problem??? What are the chances that the dozen +/- of wolverines in Montana are all in the same areas being frequented by snowmobilers? And if by chance they are, then let the local park service institute appropriate regulations.

    But no one seems to recognize that snowmobiling on public lands already IS regulated. It’s just not regulated in the way you WANT it to be.

    Snowmobiles don’t have the same impact on forest land and animals, you and I agree on that. They are not the same, so why regulate them in the same way?

  27. And while we’re on the subject of wolverines, why in the world would you support additional regulation across the entire country based on it’s potential impact on 28-58 animals in three states.

  28. Great job, Larix.

    “By Freedom, 11-15-10
    Larix and Jack Richards, you have no facts or data to back up your arguments. Most your arguments are completely false and stereotyped anyway. You two are just stating YOUR OPINION, which to me and the majority means nothing. You two are whining about name calling when you are just being hypocrites yourself. Grow up and mind your own business and everyone will be just fine.”

    “Freedom,” one’s “rights” end when they interfere with another’s “rights.” Snowmobile riding alters the Forest in proximity to others to the degree that other citizens’ reasonable non-motorized use of the Forest is denied- taken! When a snowmobile is ridden on a snowy slope where others are on snowshoes or skis, the ridden snowmobile presents a tangible hazard to pedestrians and also may cause an avalanche onto pedestrians before pedestrians may retreat from the speeding machine entering the area. Also, modern powerful snowmobiles create ( “trench”) deep square-sided ruts that render the snow surface undesirable or unusable for other Forest users- citizens who want to exercise their “Freedom.” The riding of snowmobiles on the Forest is not inappropriate, but that activity needs management. Areas to serve the clear majority of citizens who wish to ski, snowshoe, or winter camp on the (non-Wilderness) Forest must be provided in at least an equitable fashion.

    The snowmobile-damage to resources, flora, and fauna are increasingly demonstrated. Old studies from 25 years ago are often quoted to indicate little to no resource or flora damage, or harm to wildlife. If snowmobiles were ridden now only where ridden 25 years ago, there would not be the conflict with non-motorized Forest users as now, and not the resource/flora/fauna damage as now. If any of the posting snomo-enthusiasts discussed this with any intellectual honesty, they would acknowledge that the capabilities of modern snowmobiles allow riding to most areas, in trees, on sidehill ablve creeks, through trees. Soon we may see conclusive studies illustrating the damage done by 150+ HP machines traveling over most snowy terrain, day after day, winter after winter.

    Many winter recreationists who engage in non-motorized activities use or hire snowmobiles to get up roads to go into the backcountry. Many non-motorized winter Forest users are quite angry at the widespread domination of the Forest by snowmobile riding. Others are not as angry, but most want some reasonable management to allow winter non-motorized forest use that is not interfered by speeding, loud, snowmobile riding.

  29. It is sad that people expend so little effort to research the issues they allege to understand. First, there is no snowmobile exclusions for TMP purposes. Snowmobiles are held to EXACTLY the same end result as all other motorized use. They are governed under an alternative regulatory system because they are different vehicles.

    Given the small level of usage of snowmobiles on the total of FS lands it simply makes no sense to have a general snowmobile usage rule for all forests. There is no snowmobile usage in FL and it would generate a lot of expense to have that forest address usage that they will NEVER see.

    The environmental damage argument against snowmobile usage has been found to be totally scientifically off base. US Forest Service has REPEATEDLY found no environmental impact to water runoff in spring, exhaust on the snow surface.;.pdf

    In Yellowstone the FS actually studied an area directly adjacent to a heavily used snowmobile trail and was unable to find ANY trace of exhaust during testing.

    User conflicts are should not be an issue if those seeking a human powered experience use good judgement. A case in point. The White River National Forest estimates that approximately 7% of the forest is practically available for over snow vehicle use. (White River National Forest Draft Environmental Impact Statement, 2006 @ 77.) Please don’t assert that the remaining 93% of the forest is insufficient for quiet recreation. That would be silly……

    If you can’t get to the area to use it, that sounds like an access argument and welcome to our side. This issue has repeatedly been cited as a major issue in conducting scientific research on various endangered species. I particularly like this study since it was funded by the Wildlife Conservation Society.

    Noise……… under the FS regulations snowmobiles can be no louder than the vac cleaner or electric lawnmower at your house. Often low flying planes, horns, orchestras, blow dryers and roads are MUCH louder than anything snowmobile related. It simply is not the volume of the snowmobile, it is the response to it from people who don’t want it there that is the problem. This is simply a complete misunderstanding of the multiple use doctrine that governs much of the public lands.