Diamonds are a girl's best friend?

Jan. 01, 2000 By Greg Lonero

It is amazing how much we don't know about public policies, or the full story about a particular media event. Take me for instance. When I write an article, you are receiving my thoughts from my observations. With this there are two subjective terms here, "my thoughts" and "my observations", and before I write anything, I try to gather as much information as possible. But there is always more to be learned and being a student of life, I love to know all sides of the story.

For recent news, let's use the White River National Forest (WRNF) Alternative D as one subject. In my opinion, this is worse than the issues of Yellowstone, and Yellowstone is certainly a bad deal for National Parks. But Yellowstone is just one of a few national parks that snowmobilers can ride in. WRNF is one of hundreds of National Forests and if "Alternative D" is approved, it will change, set precedence, and eliminate off-road/backcountry use as we know it today, anywhere where you ride in a National Forest. I'm talking coast to coast here. But if those two issues are not threatening enough to eliminate your apathy towards snowmobiling on the lands you ride on, then Clinton's Roadless Initiative, a.k.a. Proposed Forest Protection Initiative, will ice it for you.

In the event you able to get a hold of these proposed plans, (they are huge; hundreds of pages), to fully understand the ploys to shut down the forest for off-road use you will need to be a lawyer. (Something which is becoming increasingly popular.) You will also discover that many employees of the Forest Districts are not well professed in the details of these plans. And if you think I'm wrong, go to a meeting or visit them and ask some basic questions. When I posed the question to define what "Roadless" and "Development" meant, two things the Roadless Initiative proposes to reduce and/or eliminate, I can honestly say no one was sure of the extent of these terms. Like the WRNF, this plan also goes from coast to coast for your political off-road enjoyment.

We are told at this point what the National Forest and Park folks are looking for is suggestions; they don't want to hear the plans suck. (Send that comment to your political representative). So here are some suggestions you may want to submit:

For Yellowstone, though not proposed in any of the alternatives, one suggestion could be to move the staging areas to an area where there is more wind circulation to clear the concentration of fumes.

For the WRNF, one suggestion would be for them to establish standards so each district could micro manage and establish a program for volunteer/club maintenance on the roads. This will reduce maintenance cost for the forest service and help meet the needs of the various communities (people and wildlife) that rely on the forest for their existence.

As for Roadless Initiative suggestions, there is rumored concern that Washington D.C. has its mind made up and this is intended to be Clinton's Legacy. So write your letters now!!!

Now for some fun facts on the Roadless Initiative:

Some of the following facts, (not opinions), come from a club of retired Forest Service retirees. The club is the FSX Club of Washington D.C and represents over 160 Forest Service retirees who have, collectively, thousands of years of on-the-ground experience in managing and protecting the resources contained in the National Forests. They have long held that decisions about the status of inventoried and un-inventoried Roadless areas must be made by a site-by-site evaluation, preferably through the forest planning process at the National Forest level.

The proposed rule would effectively shift management emphasis on public lands to those activities not requiring road access. Regarding the timber resource, the effect would be to shift further the burden and impacts of wood consumption to ecosystems contained in private forests in the U.S. or forests of other countries. The high harvest and export of old growth boreal forests in northern Quebec and Alberta is a public issue there. The harvest of softwood timber from the private forests of the southeastern United States currently exceeds the rate of growth. Tropical hardwood ecosystems can't continue to provide wood products at the current extraction rate. The rule making, in order to contribute responsibly to the matter of scarce resources, must address the consequence of the proposal on timber supply in the GLOBAL market along with the associated "ecological transfer effects." Now how many greenies think that big?!!

The proposal should also address the qualitative effects of shifting the timber burden. Federal forests are staffed with foresters, wildlife and fisheries biologists, watershed and recreation specialists, and engineers who are trained to manage the forests with a high degree of professionalism. Shifting timber harvests from federal forests to small private and foreign forests, where professional forest managers and specialists are scarcer, will result in relatively greater adverse ecological effects to these forests and neighboring ecological systems, both here and globally.

The NOI mentions the possibility of the National Forests serving as "ecological anchors, allowing nearby federal, state and private lands to be developed for economic purposes". These proposals should specify the trade-offs so the public can ascertain what will be given up and what will be gained in the bargain. They should also display the statutory basis for such transfers. So when you write your letter, mention that they need to add and detail these trade-offs.

I'll admit I don't favor all the alliances snowmobilers have to form with industries that can get federal subsidies and/or special access to some of our lands, (since those are my tax dollars at work.) The quandary is, some of these alliances are necessary to combat the well-funded greenies. We sledders campaign on a budget of volunteers, since the snowmobile manufacturers and dealers are contributing no visible lobbying efforts (or cash).

Keep in mind that the Roadless Initiative is being presented in parts and Part II appears to be the Initiative that will have the greatest impact on snowmobilers across the country - Part II being the part which has not been made readily available for viewing or comment.

Getting the big picture!!

So if you're a greenie, here's where I explain the title I gave this commentary, "Diamonds are girl's best friend?" Like all of the shiny objects in our houses, diamonds don't show up on your finger with a detailed explanation describing the local and global environmental impacts that took place in order to extract that rock. Tons of ore are excavated per gem. And as these greenies drive from Hypocrisy, USA to the jeweler in the SUV, or to buy x-cross country skis, while living in a new two story house?.. In a greenies world, these items apparently fall from the sky. What a wonderful place that must be to know that they can own products that have no impact on the environment and yet be so stupid that they can't see their own hypocrisy nor the impact they have on the environment locally and globally.

And if I get asked one more time about what impact my snowmobile has on the environment, I'm going to snap! More deer and other little critters are killed by autos, and what the autos don't take care of, the hunters will. And so far, the hunters and hunting season is not being effected by these issues like us sledders; which for the hunters is a good deal and for animal population control too. And for the greenies house nestled in the woods, don't call animal control when a coyote or mountain lion carry's off Fido for a Sunday brunch. These homesteads and other suburban sprawls have encroached on the critter's terrain, having a greater impact locally, (compounded nationally), on ecosystems, than my sled will ever have. So as long as there is a hunting season, (but not like the slaughter of buffalo near Yellowstone by a government agency a couple years ago --never a reported case of Brucellosis per Park Planner Bob Rossman; or Cuyahoga Valley's N.R.A. nighttime deer shoots), then in my eyes, snowmobiles have no impact on wildlife. But if you're not convinced of that perspective, there are plenty of documented studies on wildlife vs humans on foot and wildlife vs snowmobilers.

Those are some fun facts about your sled, our existence and our global world. We have become dependent upon many creature comforts. Our job is to manage, enjoy and preserve what we have so future generations, as well as us, can continue to enjoy our backcountry on many levels. It starts with intelligent people and intelligent management of our lands, and thinking globally about the impact of our daily decisions.

And if you thought President Clinton's Infidelity Policy was a bite in the shorts (say thank you Monica) then these land issue policies are sure to get you riled up.

Below are some URLS to help you get addresses to send your letters to. (For your state, put your state abbreviations after the word "state".)

You may also want to send an e-mail to Mel Wolf, president of the Colorado Snowmobile Association, at, and have him add you to his mailing list. He has great access to many informative e-mails.

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