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Why and How To Monitor

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Why: Refute Snowmobile Industry Myths

As a backcountry observer, You can witness, record, and report the consequences of snowmobile misuse.

The American Council of Snowmobile Associations claims that a person exerts ten times more land pressure than an operating snowmobile. The ACSA goes on to state that "...a snowmobile and rider exert dramatically less pressure on the earth's surface than other recreational activities." However, winter backcountry users are impacted by what snowmobiles do to the snow, not the ground underneath, and a snowmobile can cover 10 times more territory in a day than a pedestrian can.

Hyperbole aside, a snowmobile is not a magic carpet; the conduct of the operator can make a big difference in the severity of the impacts that accompany snowmobile activity. Documenting evidence of unlawful and destructive snowmobile activity is a compelling way to show that snowmobiles in the wrong hands, or when driven to excess, can have significant impact on the living land and on visitors' enjoyment of it. 

Why: Force the Forest Service to Enforce Existing Rules and Manage Snowmobile Activity

You should monitor our snow lands to demonstrate the need for more effective snowmobile management by the Forest Service.

The United States Forest Service has no institutional reason to challenge the snowmobile industry's myths. Under-funded forest districts have inadequate resources to manage off-road motorists during snow season. Since snowmobile motorists in California and Nevada are exempt from almost every rule, even license plates, that applies to ordinary motorists, snowmobile operators are, in effect, exempt from individual accountability. 

The result is a disproportionate impact on the backcountry. Snowmobiles can adversely effect roughly ten times more terrain per visitor-hour than self-propelled travelers on public lands. Noise, toxic fumes, machine-rutted snow, and physical hazards proliferate across the public commons under the banner of ‘sharing.’

Across public snowlands of western states, Snowlands’ partner organization Winter Wildlands Alliance has documented the stunning imbalance in winter recreation opportunities that has occurred as snowmobilers mastered the roads and scattered overland in the blink of an agency's eye. 

Why: You Are the Most Important Observer

You should monitor our snowlands because you directly experience the impacts of snowmobiles, and your report is first-hand.

Forest visitors like you are the best eyewitnesses to provide hard evidence of the impacts of unmanaged snowmobile use on our public lands. Without your personal testament, abuse of our common heritage will expand while the Forest Service does little or nothing.

How To:

Study and learn the appearance of snowmobile impacts on our snowlands, use a map that shows snowmobile limits, and keep an eye out for the impacts of motorized recreation on public land.

The following is a list of indicators of snowmobile misuse. If you encounter any of these, please report the incident using the Snowlands Network online reporting form. Snowlands will record your report and forward it to the proper land management authorities.