Snowmobile Land Access Issues ÔÇô Do you care?

I just want to rideÔǪI want to high mark that hillÔǪjump off that corniceÔǪcarve through that meadowÔǪsweep down that groomed trailÔǪ stop on that bluff and enjoy the view of nature at itÔÇÖs finest momentÔǪlife is great with no worries on┬ámy snowmobile. After all,┬áisn’t that what snowmobiling is all about. To be with our children, parents and friends, enjoying life with nature and leaving our stressful work days behind. For how long and in how many places will we be able to enjoy our form of environmentally friendly recreation in the years to come? After all, when the snow melts our tracks disappear. It is up to YOU to help save our form of recreation. We need YOU now! If not YOU, then WHO?

It is a very unfortunate reality that many national organizations such as the Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, Blue Water Network, Winter Wildlands AllianceÔǪ. I could go on and on, but I think you get the pictureÔǪwant our form of recreation eliminated, and they want it done yesterday! After spreading their deceptions they┬áhave the money and members to get the job done. After┬ásnowmobiling is┬áeliminated, what will be next? Maybe horse back riding, mountain bike riding, or even camping in your RV by the river at your favorite spot that you have been going to for years?

People that run these types of organizations have full time paid jobs dedicated┬áamong other things to erasing our form of recreation from this planet. If you donÔÇÖt believe me, send me an email and I will pull up the blinders on your closed window┬áshade and hopefully┬áI will be able to show you what is happening across the western United States. Why should you care? Because if you donÔÇÖt, who will?

There are a few organizations on our side attempting to slow this┬ásad process down, but we are not going to be able to stop it, at least not without┬ámuch more help. One of the first and biggest organizations on our side is the Blue Ribbon Coalition. They have been around since the late 1980ÔÇÖs. They are also one of the few organizations on our side that has a paid attorney that can help to stop some of these ridiculous┬ápotential closures. If you are not a member of this worthy organization, you should sign up today at It is only $20 bucks a year, and┬áit is well worth your money. I have been a member since I started snowmobiling in the early 1990ÔÇÖs and I have recently become a Lifetime member. Will you please join BRC today if you are not a member? At least you will be able to say you did something to help keep your riding areas open.

Are you a member of your state snowmobile association┬áor local club? If not, why not? DonÔÇÖt want to get involvedÔǪ donÔÇÖt like the politicsÔǪ.donÔÇÖt think it mattersÔǪdonÔÇÖt have the time? Well it does matter. Even if you donÔÇÖt have the time to volunteer numerous hours each month, or go to the meetings,┬áor help clear a snowmobile trail, become a member and be counted as someone who truly cares about snowmobiling. Write a letter to the Forest Service, the National Park Service, or your Congressional representative, and let them know what you think about the various potential closures to our form of recreation. Of course be processional in your comment letter even if you are angry as you well should be. The cost of joining most of these groups per year is less than one tank of fuel in your sled. Is that too much to ask? You donÔÇÖt even have to give up the latest mod on your sled to afford to join them.

There are numerous individuals in every state and region that volunteer their time to activities that help our form of recreation continue year after year. In Washington State, we have people like Howard Briggs, which has dedicated a good portion of his adult life to help keep your riding areas open in Washington. THANK YOU HOWARD! In Idaho, we have people like Sandra Mitchell. She is a pit bull on our side when it comes to potential snowmobile closures in Idaho. THANK YOU SANDRA! There are also many, many others in every state across the Snow Belt that have people like Howard and Sandra fighting for YOU. Thank you to all of you. I do not have the space here to list them all.

Several of us recently formed the Snowmobile Alliance of Western States (SAWS) with dedicated individuals from many western states that are concerned about land access issues┬áacross the western United States and beyond. Our SAWS Mission Statement states that we will ÔÇ£provide education regarding public lands policy and outdoor recreation ethics in order to preserve and protect access to traditional trails and terrain on public lands, so that future generations will be able to enjoy nature through snowmobiling as generations have done in the pastÔÇØ. THANK YOU to all of our SAWS representatives that have volunteered your time away from family and friends to help us in our mission. Also THANK YOU to our SAWS members that have joined our organization, or any other organization, because you know we have a problem that needs to be addressed TODAY. If you are not yet a SAWS member, SAWS is free to join, as we only use email and our web site for our communication means. This saves us an enormous amount of money in mailing costs to provide you information on the next potential closure to allow us to be free. It may be your favorite riding area that is next on the closure list. Do you want to help stop that from happening?

What is missing from all of the above organizations? Members! And members that care. Members do make a difference. We need your help. We can not save your riding areas for you. You need to help these groups to make a difference. Many people have been fighting these battles for many years and are either burning out now, or possibly soon will be. Who will fight our battle after they have burned out? Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?

Some snowmobilers do not think we have access issues.┬áTell Larry, Moe and Curly, or whoever you may ride with that just doesnÔÇÖt seem to get it that they are wrong.┬áTell them to get involved now before it is too late.┬áMany snowmobilers donÔÇÖt think there is a problem until their favorite riding area is closed. Is your favorite riding area next? It could be. Many of your riding areas are on the list for potential closures. Will you help to keep them open,┬áor whine about it after they are closed? After they are closed, they will most likely never be open again for you or your children to enjoyÔǪand that is a very sad vision. Do you care enough to get involved? I hope┬áyou do.

Dave Hurwitz
Snowmobile Alliance of Western States

Helping to protect access for the owners of 295, 064 registered snowmobiles (2004) in the western United States.

┬áCopyright ┬® 2006 Snowmobile Alliance of Western States. All Rights Reserved.

Permission is granted to distribute this information in whole or in part, as long as Snowmobile Alliance of Western States (SAWS) is acknowledged as the source.