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 SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT - The GOOD, BAD and UGLY

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PostSubject: SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT - The GOOD, BAD and UGLY   Wed Jan 30, 2008 11:15 pm

For all of you sledders who have friends who complain that your passion is straining the environment, adding excessively to polution levels, and affecting the (non human) wildlife population, then read on...

Effects of Snowmobiles

EFFECTS ON WILDLIFE

A Dr. Andres Soom participated in the University of Wisconsin's comprehensive three-year study on the effects of snowmobile sound levels on deer and cottontail rabbits. His report entitled Emission, Propagation and Environmental Impact of Noise from Snowmobile Operations , concluded that "only minor reactions were noted in the movements of cottontail rabbits and white tailed deer to moderate and intensive snowmobiling activity." He stated that it had not been possible to determine sound levels at which there is a clear reaction on the part of the deer "because snowmobiles must be so close to deer to generate the higher levels that other factors such as visible presence... are likely to be more important."

The Wisconsin study also compared the reaction of deer to the presence of cross-country skiers. When cross-country skiers replaced snowmobiles on the test trail systems, the deer moved away from the trail more frequently.

A three-year study, Response of White-Tailed Deer to Snowmobiles and Snowmobile Trails in Maine , conducted by wildlife scientists for the Maine Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, revealed that: "Deer consistently bedded near snowmobile trails and fed along them even when those trails were used for snowmobiling several times daily. In addition, fresh deer tracks were repeatedly observed on snowmobile trails shortly after machines had passed by, indicating that deer were not driven from the vicinity of these trails... The reaction of deer to a man walking differed markedly from their reaction to a man on a snowmobile... This decided tendency of deer to run with the approach of a human on foot, in contrast to their tendency to stay in sight when approached by a snowmobiler, suggests that the deer responded to the machine and not to the person riding it."

In a study entitled Snow Machine Use and Deer in Rob Brook , conducted by the Forest Wildlife Biologist of the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire, snowmobile operations and deer movement were monitored. A summary of the study indicated that deer travel patterns were not affected by periodically heavy snowmobile use. In addition, continued use of established snowmobile trails was recommended.

The University of Minnesota issued a study by Michael J. Dorrance entitled Effects of Snowmobiles on White Tailed Deer which found no meaningful difference in the deer's home range during periods of snowmobile use and non-use.

Addressing the subject of snowmobile operations in Yellowstone National Park, Jack Anderson, a former Superintendent of Yellowstone commented:
"We found that elk, bison, moose, even the fawns, wouldn't move away unless a machine was stopped and a person started walking. As long as you stayed on the machine and the machine was running, they never paid any attention. If you stopped the machine, got off and started moving, that was a different story. The thing that seemed to be disturbing to them was a man walking on foot."

Wolf Population and Snowmobiling.

The Michigan DNR reported in June 1999 that the wolf population in Michigan's Upper Peninsula has increased to over 249 wolves in 30 packs, from near extinction in 1989. This tremendous growth has occurred hand in hand with the growth of snowmobiling in the U.P.

Snowmobiles do not impact on Wolf Activity.

On Thursday, November 29, 2001, Voyageurs National Park reopened 11 of the Bays located in the park to snowmobiling. Snowmobiling is now allowed on these Bays in the Park as the result of a study that was conducted by Michigan Tech Researcher Rolf Peterson, who is renowned for his study of wolves. Peterson found that there was no significant correlation between wolf activity and human use on 11 Bays within the Park that were closed in 1992 to snowmobiling based on Junk Science.

Barbara West, the Voyageurs National Park Superintendent, stated, "The Bays were now open in the year 2001 due to the best available information now being available to guide our decisions." The in depth research supported positions supported by the snowmobiling community.

Wyoming Game, Fish & Wildlife Biologists supports snowmobiling. In December 2001 the leading Wyoming Game, Fish & Wildlife Biologist, Mr. Stetler, announced studies recently conducted in Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park show that regulated snowmobiling in the park minimizes harmful effects to wildlife. Careful, active management of the Park allows snowmobiling to continue in the National Parks so that there will be virtually no adverse effects.

Montana State University supported a thesis in 2002 by Amanda Hardy that concluded "Winter Recreation in Yellowstone National Park is coexisting with Bison and elk, without causing declines in population levels and the continued use of traditional winter range remains unchanged, despite an increase in winter visitation."

The thesis concluded by Hardy helped the Park Service acknowledge that "Literature does NOT contain evidence that over snow motorized use adversely affects Ungulate populations in the National Parks."

ENVIRONMENTAL SUPPORT FOR SNOWMOBILERS

Jan 2001 - The following comments were made by John Monarch, President of an ecological consulting firm in Colorado. His input reflects the reality of just how twisted the process of "protecting our environment" has become.

I have been a wildlife biologist who has conducted wildlife studies for over 35 years in the intermountain west. During that time I have used snowmobiles to access areas where I have conducted studies.

Having observed wildlife responses to snowmobiles over that time I would support Ed's (Klim, President of the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association) observation that there have been no studies to support the notion that there have been significant impacts to wildlife. As a matter of fact I would doubt one could prove even through studies that elk, deer, bison and other wildlife are affected at not only the population level, but the individual level.

The argument that snowmobiling affects humans is driven primarily by the cross-country skiers who feel the snowmobilers are impacting their wilderness experience. They are unwilling to accept that with the new exhaust systems sound levels are very low and one can't hear them very far away. I enjoy cross-country skiing as much as snowmobiling and have never had a problem with noise or discourteous riders.

As for the environment there are no studies to prove snowmobiles affect the environment. There may be evidence that sleds have been in an area, but no evidence that the environment has been harmed. The special interest groups don't want to accept the fact that snowmobiling occurs on the snow and, with few exceptions, do not affect vegetation or habitat.

The few exceptions I reference are those instances when snowmobilers ride during marginal snow conditions and tear up the vegetation. This is an education and self-policing issue that we must continue to work on and not a reason to close down national parks or portions of the forests or BLM lands.

Whenever I deal with environmental issues, I find that they have an opinion and are pushing an agenda and don't care what the facts or lack thereof show. What people need to do is spend as much time in the field as I have over the past years then maybe they would have a better understanding of how wildlife reacts to not only winter, but year around recreation and other activities. Then, maybe they wouldn't be so inclined to get on the bandwagon in opposition of motorized recreation.

I should further point out that over my many years of observations, I have found that wildlife reacts more to a person walking or cross country skiing than when they are in a vehicle, or on a snowmobile or ATV.

Snowmobile Use and Trails Assist Wildflower Survival

Professor William Mitchell of the Landscape Horticultural Program at the University of Maine has been involved for years in a study of Maine Wildflowers. Through his observations he has reached the conclusion that maintaining snowmobile trails plays an important role in the survival of a number of the state's most beautiful flora.

Professor Mitchell has created and maintained a photo album and documentation over the last few years showing with amazement the abundance of wildflowers located along Maine's snowmobile trail system. The professor claims the trail systems are a critical component for the survivability of native wildflowers in Maine, especially those considered to be critical or imperiled. The grooming and the sledding of the trail system affects the survival of the wildflowers by encouraging and maintaining suitable habitats for the wildflowers.

Yes, snowmobiling and snowmobile trails do provide a truly beneficial relationship with our environment while providing a wonderful opportunity for recreational access in the winter.

EFFECTS ON PEOPLE

Operated in normal, considerate manner, snowmobiles are barely audible from inside a home. From a distance of 50 feet, snowmobiles generate between 68 - 73 dB(A) at 15 mph. Since doors and windows are almost always closed in winter, snowmobiles operating outside at a distance of 50 feet only create an interior sound level between 41 and 47 dB(A). From a distance of 200 feet, snowmobiles produce an interior sound level between 29 and 35 dB(A), This is well below the average evening household sound level of 47 dB(A). Dr. Andres Soom, (University of Wisconsin) concluded from his study that the newer, quieter machines can travel within 45 feet of a residence without adverse effect.

Natural sound barriers, careful trail planning and reduced speed limits in residential areas further reduce snowmobile noise. Snowbanks or trees can cause a 20 dB drop in sound levels if they are between the machine and listener.

U.S. Forest Service researcher Robin Harrison reported that under usual wildland conditions, snowmobile operation is undetectable to the human ear at distances of more than 750 feet. He reported that snowmobiles were barely detectable above normal campground sound levels at a distance of 400 feet.

COMPACTION AND VEGETATION

Everything we do has some effect on the environment. When a hiker steps on a flower, he affects the environment. When land is paved over for a bicycle path, it affects the environment. Many of the foot paths man has used for centuries still exist and are clearly visible throughout the world.

However, it's a fact that a snowmobile and rider exert dramatically less pressure on the earth's surface than other recreational activities (i.e., just one-tenth the pressure of a hiker and one-sixteenth the pressure of a horseback rider). Average pounds of pressure per square inch exerted on earth's surface:


Object Lbs. of Pressure
Four-Wheel Drive Vehicle 30
Horse 8
Man 5
All-Terrain Vehicle 1.5
Snowmobile 0.5


(All vehicle weights considered include 210 lbs. estimated weight of one person and gear.)

Moreover, the snowmobile's 1/2 pound of pressure is further reduced by an intervening blanket of snow.

In many jurisdictions, snowmobiles are not classified as off-road vehicles. By both definition and management policies, these jurisdictions have completely separated snowmobiles from off-road vehicles. As the U.S. Department of the Interior concluded in an environmental statement:
"A major distinction is warranted between snowmobiles and other types of off-road vehicles. Snowmobiles operated on an adequate snow cover have little effect on soils - and hence cause less severe indirect impacts on air and water quality, and on soil- dependent biotic communities, than other ORV's do."

Given adequate snowfall and responsible operation, all evidence of snowmobile operation disappears when the season changes and the snow melts.

In its environmental statement regarding off-road vehicle use of public lands, the U.S. Department of the Interior stated: "Where snowmobiles are used exclusively over snow on roads and trails, the impact on vegetation is indeed virtually nil."

A University of Wisconsin study of J. W. Pendleton entitled Effect of Snowmobile Traffic on Non-Forest Vegetation discovered that snowmobile traffic had no effect on grain yield of winter wheat, alfalfa, red clover plots or grass legume. Species of turf grass showed slightly reduced yields at first harvest, but were not negatively affected in subsequent harvests.

Research undertaken by Dr. James C. Wittaker and Dennis S. Wentworth of the University of Maine concluded that "compaction by snowmobiling does not alter the grain weight yields of alfalfa in Maine."

A Utah Water Resource Laboratory study found that snow compaction, caused by snowmobile tracks, does not damage wheat crops. Instead, the compaction increases the yield and eliminates snow mold. Erosion is also reduced.

There is no evidence that snow compaction caused by snowmobiling, ski-touring or snowshoeing has a significant impact on the population of small burrowing animals. Since these recreations take place over a minuscule portion of the total land area, the ecosystems of burrowing animals tend to be overwhelmingly affected by natural forces-such as wind-induced compaction, early and late snowfalls, temperature fluctuations resulting in thaws and freezes, etc.
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PostSubject: Re: SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT - The GOOD, BAD and UGLY   Wed Jan 30, 2008 11:36 pm

Excellent Info! Thanks Touring!
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PostSubject: Re: SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT - The GOOD, BAD and UGLY   Thu Feb 21, 2008 7:42 pm

Thanks for taking the time to share this info, it shows your dedication to the sport1
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