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We are judged by the company we keep.

"If we don't clean up our act, someone else will."

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Wisconsin Snowmobile News, March 1999
Wisconsin's Snowmobile Legislation in Review
1973-74 Session Ch.298

"This was the first piece of legislation that regulated the sound emissions of snowmobiles.  It was written in two parts.  The first allowed a decibel level of 82 decibels of sound A pressure at 50 feet for sleds made up to 1972.  The level was then reduced to 78 decibels for sound A Pressure at 50 feet for all sleds after 1975.  This law also stated that it was illegal to make any modifications to snowmobiles."

For more information about sound and the environment, see:

For information about snowmobile emissions, see: " The Truth on Snowmobile Emissions," and

Déjà Vu?
Written for Sno-Mobile Times

Alcohol and Snowmobiles DON'T GO!
By Diana Berendt, National Safety Council
March-April 1971

"... with one-and-one-half million snowmobilers, there is a strong chance that there is a combining of two pastimes - drinking and snowmobiling...
...50% of snowmobile fatalities occur on weekends, when people don't work - but when most people who drink do just that...
...wait at least one hour per average drink before attempting to operate a snowmobile..."

SNOWsports Dealer News
April 1973
Manufacturer Viewpoint
Status of the Industry '73

"In some cases, the industry's product promotion approach used in the past has harmed the image of the sport.   We have doted on racing as an impetus to new buyers, which undoubtedly sparked a dramatic interest in the sport.  However, as more and more families began participating in snowmobiling, speed and racing as an end to itself no longer was an ally, particularly as speed and racing began to be linked to accidents.  As we see the future, we see snowmobiling as a safe family sport with speed and racing being confined to regulated tracks and highly skillful drivers.

The Problem of Sound
...It has been construed by many critics as our major problem.  The first snowmobiles and those manufactured prior to a few yeas ago, were noisy.  Some may have had levels over 100 decibels. measured at fifty feet on the "A" scale."

For more information about sound and the environment, see:

For information about snowmobile emissions, see: " The Truth on Snowmobile Emissions,"

Stud bans... protecting and minimizing damage to our trail systems...

Groomer's Perspective - February, 2002, Snow Biz - Idaho Snowmobile Association Magazine. By Alan Eborn

1. Use no more than 1/4" stick-out beyond the lugs. It has been established that a 1/4" stick-out stops a sled faster than a 3/8" stick-out.

2. Use no sharper than an 80 degree point (30 degree to 60 degree). If a stud really needed a sharp point, everyone would change studs after 200-300 miles... because the points would be gone.

Trail Damage Causes & Solutions - American Snowmobile article

For control on ice, only carbide will etch the surface for any extended length of time.

3. Do not spin the track (especially on pavement and bridges). Some spinning is unavoidable. But, accelerating - just to hear the roar of the engine - only pushes the non-snowmobiling public into the our detractor's camp. Minimize bad PR.  

Let your track work ! If your track is spinning, it is not working for you. If you have regular studs and the track is spinning, it is like taking a chainsaw to the trails. Demonstrate your expertise by minimizing the spinning and protecting the trails.

4. Ride on marked trails only.  When we trespass on, or damage, other's property, we hurt our own cause.

5. Show respect to others. Most trails depend on the kindness of strangers (private landowners).  Our rights take a backseat once we enter someone else's private property.

6. Join a club! Keep informed with the snowmobile association magazines. If 125,000 families in your state paid $20.00 dues, the resulting 2.5 million dollars could make a huge difference to snowmobiling. New Hampshire Legislature Passes Snowmobile Bill. May 6, 2002

7. Get race quality traction products off the trails.

8. The most economical way to expand our trail system is to widen the trails we already have.  An 8' trail widened to 12' would translate into 50% more trail life, while contributing more to snowmobilers' safety.  The Northwoods are not the Northwoods of old!

Population: Vilas County, Eagle River, WI

1950 9,363
1960 9,332
1970 10,958
1980 16,535
1990 17,707
1998 19,435 estimated

These numbers do not include all the seasonal residents.  Therefore, it is obvious we have many more people that we must take into consideration.

Demographic Services Center

9. Bulldoze the granite off to the sides of train beds to widen the trail and cover it with limestone to minimize the damage to the sleds.  Limestone, not asphalt, because we do not want to introduce oil into the environment.

10. Set aside train beds for faster riding.

11. The new suspensions have opened up the back of the sleds. This allows much more snow to become airborne which then drifts off the trail. Some modification to the tunnel might counteract this situation. 

With approximately 2.5 million registered snowmobiles in the U.S. and approximately 250 million people, we are not holding a lot of power. If just 2% are against us, our 1% has to convince the majority of the remaining 97% that we deserve their support. If we continue to go for the all or nothing approach, we will lose. We have to take a hard look at snowmobiling and take steps to minimize as many negative perceptions as possible.  If we take responsible actions now, we take the fire out of their arguments, and we will gain outside support.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please send them! Nobody has all the answers. But, if we work together, we can improve the future of snowmobiling.

The Lakeland Times
February 9, 2001
Page 11
Letters to the editor

Thank you snowmobilers!

I've always been a severe critic of snowmobiles, believing that they were noisy, polluting machines ridden by irresponsible, careless people. A recent experience has completely revised my opinion.

While driving to a fish fry Jan. 26 in Woodruff with my wife and another couple, I needed to make a U-turn across the median strip of what I thought was a four-lane highway. The time was about 5:30 p.m., so it was dark and I was unfamiliar with the roads.

I soon discovered that it was a two-lane highway, and what I thought was the median strip was the edge of the road. I ended up on a sloping bank of snow heading into the ditch. We made a soft landing so no one was hurt. However, I could see by the way the car was pretty well sunken into the snow that we were going to have a real problem.

As I climbed out of my vehicle, several snowmobilers appeared about 30 feet ahead of my car on a trail paralleling the road. They stopped immediately and offered their assistance. After much dragging, pushing, pulling and rocking of the car they were able to move it to a more level area where they attached tow ropes to two snowmobiles and pulled the car onto the snowmobile trail.

They wouldn't let me help with any of the pushing or pulling and refused any payment. They were gone almost as quickly as they had appeared, and wished us a good evening and an enjoyable fish fry.

Needless to say I have become an enthusiastic supporter of the snowmobile sport. I hope that those who believed as I did will realize that the vast majority of snowmobilers obey the rules and are responsible and caring people. It's too bad that they get so much bad press based on the very few who cause problems.

Thank you to those fine people who helped us that night in Woodruff.

T.H. Peterson, M.D.

Some steps Ontario Has Taken...

1.  Pre-season registration, $100 Canadian dollars, and in-season, $130 Canadian dollars ($40-$50 U.S. dollars, pre-season, and $52-$65, in-season).

2.  They require 2 1/2"-3" tall registration numbers on the snowmobiles for easy identification.

**Possible registration number layout for easy recollection

It would also help if the registration number was worn on the back of the jacket. Then, offenders could be easily identified. 

3.  The trails close at 9:00pm, to allow groomers to work throughout the night and to allow the trails to set for 4-6 hours.  Since implementing this procedure, their trails last up to 10 times longer per grooming, or withstand 10 times the normal traffic.

4.  They changed their laws, allowing 2,500 deputized snowmobile club members to patrol the trails.

5.  The speed limit on the trails is 30 mph, with no speed limit on the lakes. They enforce this limit by making sure snowmobilers stay on the correct side of the trail in the corners. This means if you come into a corner hard and stay in your lane - no ticket.  If, however, you come into a corner at 10 mph in the wrong lane, you are not under control, and will get a ticket. You must be under control!

6.  They put dirt islands in some corners, separating the directions of traffic. This has reduced the number of accidents in those corners.

Report to the Legislature, 1998

The feasibility of paving
Wisconsin state bicycle trails

  • Ten foot wide asphalt trail costs an average of $11 to $17 a linear foot or about $58,000 to $90,000 per mile.

  • Maintenance of an asphalt trail costs up to $1500 per mile per year.

  • The possibility of asphalt leaching toxic chemicals into the soil and groundwater is a concern.

Compared to:

  • Crushed limestone costs about $17,200 to $40,000 a mile.

  • Maintenance of crushed limestone trails generally costs about $350 to $400 per mile per year.

Summary: trail surfaces and recreational uses
Use Asphalt Limestone Unsurfaced
Touring  bikes Easiest, fastest Suitable; slower than asphalt Not suitable
Mountain bikes Easiest and fastest; not mountain bike experience Suitable Best
Hiking/walking Suitable Suitable Suitable
Wheelchairs, baby carriages Best Suitable Least suitable
Jogging Suitable; hard on feet Suitable; easy on feet Suitable, depending on smoothness
Skating and roller skiing Best Suitable only for all-terrain skates Unsuitable
Horseback riding Not suitable Suitable, but makes trail less suitable for bicycling Best
All-terrain vehicles Suitable; not ATV experience Not suitable if trail is also used for bicycling Best
Cross-country skiing Suitable, but hastens snow melt if exposed Suitable with adequate snow cover Suitable, but if very rough, requires deeper snow
Snowmobiling Suitable with adequate snow cover, but hastens snow melt and can be damaged, if exposed Best Suitable, but if very rough, requires deeper snow


arrow.gif (56 bytes) Legislative/Legal Issues

arrow.gif (56 bytes) Minnesota snowmobilers - link to the Minnesota DNR (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)


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