(Last Updated On: January 28, 2010)
The Winter Wildlands Alliance (WWA) is a group dedicated to eliminating types of winter recreation other than the ones they support, namely human-powered recreation. From their website: “We believe winter wildland adventurers and future generations should have sizable areas of public land on which to experience the natural sights, sounds, and winter beauty of public lands free of motorized vehicles, and that our backcountry wildlife habitat should be protected from the negative impacts of motorized intrusion such as snowmobiles.” One can only guess that their supporters are not aware of these “sizable areas” available throughout the west, otherwise known as Wilderness areas, many of the National Parks, areas that just aren’t suitable to snowmobiles, areas closed to snowmobiles via the local Forest Service travel management plans, etc.) They must also be unaware of the evidence that people on foot are often much more disturbing to wildlife than people on snowmobiles (See here for more info.)
Here at 14erskiers, we’re supporters of quiet places free of snowmobiles just like any other lover of wild places. The question, of course, is how much is the right amount. In most areas, I think there is already a solid compromise between the different user groups. We’re skiers, not snowmobilers, but we use snowmobiles to go up roads that are open to cars in the summer in order to access some backcountry areas. Personally, I fail to see the difference between a car on a road in the summer and a snowmobile on the same road in the winter. WWA seems to think snowmobiles should be banned virtually everywhere.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, to be sure, but what I find interesting and sad is the list of sponsors the WWA has garnered. Some of WWA’s sponsors include Keen, Clif bar, Black Diamond, Cloudveil, Osprey, and even REI. It would seem that snowmobilers and snowmobile skiers might want to purchase products from these companies, whether it’s a backpack from Osprey or a pair of goggles from REI. Hopefully everyone who is interested in keeping their National Forests open to multiple forms of recreation will let these companies know that their support of WWA is unacceptable. the best way to do this, as usual, is by voting with your pocketbook. Personally, I will no longer support these companies as long as they continue to support WWA. I hope you will too, and please let your friends know about this if you care about your National Forest recreational opportunities.