Becoming an Activist

Oct. 01, 1998 By Mark Austin

(Editors Note: From time to time we will let our readers express their thoughts and opinions in this forum. This month, we feel Mark Austin has an important message to share, one fully supported by the Snowmobile Online staff.)

The message has been sent and it's clear; snowmobilers are inconsiderate, thoughtless boobs that tear up the ecosystem and terrorize small up-north towns in the middle of the night with their loud, obnoxious machines.

That's the kind of press we are getting?whether you like it or not.

This stereotype image is not an easy one to shake. Believe me, I've been to this fight before.

Before I start in, first let me give you a little background on myself.

Although I love to snowmobile, it is not my only hobby. When I'm not scooting around on my sled, most of my time is spent in the woods, usually carrying a bow & arrow or other weapon and hunting for whatever is in season. I belong to the largest hunting club in the world ( SCI ), sit on its Board of Directors, and am Vice President of one of the Michigan chapters. Our sole purpose is to "Protect our right to hunt".

You can say in a word, that I've become an activist.

Everything I see happening with snowmobiles today, I have seen happen years ago to the sport of hunting. To my eyes it breaks down like this

1. Carefree times.- Doing whatever we want because we don't bother anyone.

2. Denial.- "they'll never take our dove season (studs) away from us".

3. Reaction.- "I can't believe they took our dove season (studs, trails) away from us".

4. Action.- Fighting for our rights to pursue the sport of our choice?usually too little, too late.

But not to worry, there's still hope. But there is a catch. And it is going to cost us.

We all must become activists. If our sport is to survive this deluge of bad press from everyone from insurance companies to TV news reports, we must all do our part and become pro-active.

This means policing our own ranks.

Telling that buddy you ride with that it's time to take off that straight through silencer he's put on in place of the nice quiet one that came stock on his snowmobile is a good start. There's a time and place for making noise and the town's and trails aren't one of them. (and your more than likely not improving on the HP anyway).

Staying out of neighborhoods is another good idea. A retired member of my own family that moved up north complains to me every year about how us "crazy snowmobilers keep him and the wife awake all night". It seems that his front yard has become part of the trail system through town (along with everybody else's on the street). He now puts up a fence on each side of his driveway every winter. By the way, he said it never bothered him before "they started makin' them machines so noisy".

Being a member of a snowmobile club is a great way to stay on top of things.

By staying in touch with the DNR and Conservation Dept. your club will be able to work hand in hand with these people to head off any attempts to derail our sport.

Phone calls to your State reps. & Senators as well as club letter writing campaigns work extremely well. Remember, every letter that you take the time to sit down and write to the folks up in your State Capital is worth hundreds more that didn't get sent. The politicians know this and take this into account.

Being an activist doesn't mean you have to chain yourself to the gates of the Capital or tattoo "Save the Whales" across your chest.

It simply means becoming an active participant in our sport by promoting our sport in a light that is more in tune with the public.

The time to become active is now !!!

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