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This article appeared in The Toronto  and Ottawa Suns last Friday (Jan. 11)

Take back the countryside
The case for banning those infernal snowmobiles

Think about what a winter's day in the country was like before the invention of the snowmobile.

Clear blue skies and clean white landscapes. And silence. Blessed silence. As far as the eye could see, nothing moving on the snow-covered fields. If you got lucky, you might spot a deer or a moose or even a lone wolf on the hunt.

Now, if it moves through the snow, it is likely a snowmobile. Belching gas fumes into the atmosphere, roaring louder than a wounded water buffalo, smelling up the countryside and scaring every living thing for miles around. Even the cows in the fields cringe as they scream by.

If you see a deer today, he'll be running for his life; bewildered by the snowmobiles coming at him from all directions.

The other day I heard a big-time snowmobiler at the gas pump agree that, yes, the machines could be a nuisance. Nuisance? That's like calling a suicide bomber troublesome.

The fact is, the snowmobile is so much more than a nuisance. It is a curse. It has come between man and nature in a serious way. It is simply too intrusive to bear. It has changed things too much; altered our world too much; made too big a difference in our lives.

As far as I can see, use of snowmobiles is permitted pretty well everywhere. On rural roads and city streets, farmers' fields, frozen lakes and rivers, bush trails, roadside drainage ditches, hydro rights of way. And at any time of day or night.

I guess you might be in trouble roaring along in the collector lanes of Highway 401, but everywhere else with a few inches of snow seems to be all right.

Designated areas

I'm of the opinion that a good case could be made for banning the use of snowmobiles in most of the areas in which they are now legal. I think the Ontario government should seriously consider legislation which bans snowmobiles in all but designated areas.

Snowmobilers should not be allowed indiscriminate use of the countryside. They should not be allowed to violate the land at first dawn, roaring and ravaging their way across the virgin snow, molesting our countryside and terrifying the wild animals.

They should not be allowed access to public roads or city streets. That they are makes no sense.

Last year in Canada, almost 47,000 snowmobiles were sold. The phenomenon is growing and soon no one anywhere will be safe from them.

The average snowmobile owner is 42 years old and drives his machine 1,202 miles per year. In North America, he has, for his use, 225,000 miles of groomed and marked trails.

I think he should be limited to running his machine on those trails. More trails and racing tracks can be developed as the demand arises.

The snowmobile is the antithesis of nature. It no more belongs plowing its vulgar way through the snowy countryside than a personal watercraft belongs screaming down tiny estuaries and trout streams, scattering the local fowl and disturbing the fish.

Frankly, I can't understand the appeal of the snowmobile in the first place.

I dine sometimes at a small country restaurant, which, unfortunately, offers a large parking lot. During the winter, packs of snowmobilers - I've seen as many as 20 - descend on the parking lot at lunch hour, racing their engines, jockeying interminably for the preferred parking spots.

It is difficult for me to imagine anything more disruptive or less appealing. Once done with the macho display in the parking lot, the snowmobilers invade the dining room, snowman-like in their ridiculously padded snowsuits, taking up floor space and the extra chairs with their enormous black helmets.

It is a brash, awkward and unseemly affair, which pretty well ruins the dining experience of anyone already in the restaurant.

I think if snowmobilers were to be banned from public thoroughfares and village streets, resorts catering to them would spring up across the country, much like ski resorts, where they could indulge their intrusive pastime without disturbing non-snowmobilers; without defiling the winter landscape.

We could recapture our countryside.
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The columnist's email is  [email protected]
in case you feel inspired to write him.  I sent a letter to the editor in rebuttal.  But remember to be nice!  Everyone is entitled to their opinion and us sledders all have a reputation to protect as a good bunch of respectful people.
 

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"molesting our countryside and terrifying the wild animals. "  WHAT!?  How many of us have pictures of moose crossing 10' in front of us while we sit our our demon sleds?  Heck, I see more wildlife while riding than I do during hunting season!haha
This guy has serious issues!  OK, we have all heard his opinion, now I think we all owe him an e-mail expressing OUR opinions on this issue.
 

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TREEHUGGER!!!
I guess he's probably worried about the fish every time a
boat runs bye. Give me a break this person has
some serious personal issues. I'll gonna stop before I get
too carried away considering I'm writting this on Monday
morning and I'm at work. At least it's snowing!  


Macho display.....rediculous padded suits.....enormous black
helmets  
 
 
 

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I guess it's true opinions are like a##%oles everyone has one. I sent him a e-mail, but in a way I'm a little more peeved at the bad apples that we all know we have in this sport that have probably made him feel this way. I know 95% or more of my riding is done on the trails unless the trail doesn't go where I want to go.
 

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I didn't see anything in the article about trucks, cars, trains, airplanes, dirtbikes, motorcycles, boats, waverunners, moron's writing stupid article's..........oops! I guess we should go back to the horse and buggy, canoe's, and living off the land. Is technology and recreation really that bad? This guy needs to get out more!
 
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I sent him an e-mail too.
i let him know how little he actually knows about the sport and how little he knows about sleds in general.
I told him not to print another artical without any supporting facts.
And asked him how he made it to work everyday.
cars are one of the major contributors to the decay on the environment yet he didn't write about them.
 

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Thats total BS.   When are ignorant people going to learn that there are some things that we just cant live without
 

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<right click SEND>  
  I was nice in my email since the guy seemed so unhappy.  I figured it would piss him off more to be somewhat kind.  The guy seems like the type to complain about EVERYTHING!  I wonder if he'll return our emails, i hope so.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
If anyone gets a response of some kind from this writer, please post it on here.  I will watch the papers for anything from him - we'll see if he is decent enough to mention the fact that he touched a nerve.
 

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I emailed him as well,gave him facts such as the real impact on the environment our sport has(very little)when compared to others.Not to mention the economy in alot of places told him to ask the owners of that restaraunt how important those riders were to him.I sent him a pic of 3 sleds siting on the trail and 2 deer about a hundred yards up standing in the trail.My oppinion,when the snow melts and spring is near you will never know we were there.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
just for interest's sake, this was my letter to the editor - I will let you know if they run it.

Re:  Hartley Steward's column "Take back the countryside - The case for banning those infernal snowmobiles"

I just wanted to mention a few things that Mr. Steward failed to mention when attacking us snowmobilers (source:  Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs):
- Snowmobilers contribute untold millions of dollars to the Ontario coffers through jobs, taxes, fuel, accomodations, food, etc
- Snowmobile manufacturers have reduced engine noise pollution by 94% in recent years
- Deer are more likely to flee from upright human forms such as cross country skiers than from riders seated on snowmobiles
- Most stock sleds operate at 78dB or less at a distance of 50'
- Snowmobiles may sound loud in the woods due to lack of foliage which acts as a sound barrier
- A hiker exerts more pounds per square inch of pressure on the ground than a snowmobile
- Because of winter snow cover, snowmobiles have less compacting effect than off-road vehicles in the summer
- According to the U.S. environment Protection Agency, snowmobile emissions can hardly be considered additive to overall air pollutant episodes
- Many charities are direct recipients of organized snowmobile rides

Perhaps someday I will meet you in that restaurant you mentioned full of snowmobilers.  I would love the opportunity to sit and chat with you and try to change your glaringly one-sided opinion of us and our "intrusive pasttime."
 

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My uncle feeds the deers some hay during winter in front of his house. Since our cottage is 200 feet away, we always pass in front of his house with our so called infernal machines where sometimes, more than 30 deer's are present. Some of his neighbors were complaining that we were making too much noise and asked us to stop going in their properties because we were supposedly scaring deer's away. We didn't go for two years and they haven't seen a deer in winter until some of them asked us to "plow"  a trail to go cross-country skiing. Apparently, the deer's followed snowmobile trails because the usual 4 feet of powder is too deep for them to circulate in. All the deer's in an area of 10 square Km, were in my uncle's property of 300 acres because of the hard packed trails we made. So all that bs about scaring wildlife or other stuff is IMO only to write something in the paper and has absolutely no facts to support it. The worst part of it is that people living and staying in cities who will never go out there read this and believe it while the people who are directly concerned like wildlife agencies, farmers and rural people are not even questioned about facts or even opinions.
 

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I mail him too. I did put in my post that I have never seen a bear as most hibernate during winter months. Kevin
 

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I heard the discusion of this on the raido.  

The guy that wrote this isnt that bad.  He wants the sleds to remain on the trails and not blast through private proberty.  He also didnt expect the negitave responce to his crap arctical.    

Basicly on the raido his arguments where that snowmobilers ruined the resturants by eating there with there big helmets and suits.  He also said that they sound horrable and pollute.  He also said that they ruin peoples property because out of 100% of all snowmobilers there are 10% of guys that are nuts and dont obay the laws.

An opp officer called in and told him that they will punish the law breakers by giving them a ticket or somthing.  He also said that with out snowmobilers the resturants and countryside could not exsist in the winter because the money that snowmobiles bring to the northern economy are what keeps the buisnesses going through winter.  

Basicly to make a long story short this guy was TOLD by the people of ontairo to SHUT HIS MOUTH.  

They also did studies on 2 strokes and 4 strokes and it is found that a 2 stroke can be made quieter and make less polution then 4 strokes.  So all of his arguments were pointless.  

This guy was just trying to get some of the city lobbiest going but the contry folk shut him up.    

Basicly northern ontairo could not survive with out snowmobiles.  The goverment loves them for the income they bring in and how they allow the population to be spread out.
 

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meanwhile it is crap like that gets printed and we have a convicted terrorist in brantford that we can't send back to his homeland. the paper said if we send him back he will get killled.
 

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snowmobile trails running through the woods,sleds scaring wild animals,etc,etc what about the millions of miles of 40-100ft wide ribbons of blacktop running throughout the country?when was the last time you heard of a sledder killing a moose,deer,etc with his sled?how about the last time a vehicle did?noxious fumes,noise,etc,etc,this a$$wipe probably works at some polluting powerplant,drains his motor oil in his dooryard and tortures small animals for the fun of it.this person is one more reason we all need to stick together,be it from Canada or the U.S we all need to make the best impression we can when were out there.every single one of us is a representative of our sport like it or not.
 

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The guy is a columnist for the Toronto Sun. He wrote in a later column that he was surprised at the number of snowmobilers that responded to his column in a civilized manner.
 
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