HIs­tory of Snow­mo­bile North Dakota

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Sno-Dak News - - Board Messages -

For the last 15 years the Amer­i­can Coun­cil of Snow­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tions has been go­ing to Wash­ing­ton, DC for their An­nual Fly-In. This an­nual event has in­cluded meet­ings with de­ci­sion mak­ers at the var­i­ous agen­cies, as well as hun­dreds of leg­isla­tive meet­ings.

We re­al­ize that snow­mo­bil­ers across the coun­try work with their lo­cal land man­agers and for­est su­per­vi­sors, and those ef­forts are greatly ap­pre­ci­ated. Your part­ner­ship on projects is crit­i­cal to or­ga­nized snow­mo­bil­ing. When a prob­lem arises, not only is prob­lem re­ported, but snow­mo­bil­ers most of­ten have sug­ges­tions to re­solve the prob­lem! Not all recre­ation users do this, but snow­mo­bil­ers have been known to do this reg­u­larly. We’re not sur­prised – that’s the way snow­mo­bil­ers think and re­spond!

It was no sur­prise to us in 2005 when the Travel Man­age­ment Rule did not man­date that ad­min­is­tra­tive units make de­ci­sion that re­strict or pro­hibit Over Snow Ve­hi­cle Use, but gave the author­ity to the lo­cal For­est Ser­vice of­fi­cials to man­age the use.

It was no sur­prise when the snow­mo­bile com­mu­nity learned of the Pe­ti­tion from Win­ter Wild­lands Al­liance in the fall of 2011 with the re­quest that snow­mo­biles be reg­u­lated un­der the Travel Man­age­ment Rule. The For­est Ser­vice re­sponded to their pe­ti­tion, but ex­plained snow­mo­biles are al­ready reg­u­lated and man­aged.

It was no sur­prise when the WWA, de­feated with the de­ci­sion they re­ceived from the FS on their Pe­ti­tion, filed a law­suit against the For­est Ser­vice, once again claim­ing lack of man­age­ment of snow­mo­bile travel in 2012 and look­ing for bal­ance with snow­mo­bil­ers and cross coun­try skiers.

What did sur­prise us is when the Judge ruled in their fa­vor on April 1, 2013. Snow­mo­bil­ers united and im­me­di­ately filed an Ap­peal. The Rule Mak­ing Process has been oc­cur­ring in con­cert with the Ap­peal Process.

We were not sur­prised when or­ga­nized snow­mo­bil­ing united in a mas­sive fundrais­ing cam­paign for the le­gal ac­tion fund. Snow­mo­bil­ers al­ways re­spond with pas­sion!

We were not sur­prised with the Pro­posed Rule when it was re­leased in June of this sum­mer. We were also not sur­prised when 20,000 com­ments were re­ceived on the Pro­posed Rule. Snow­mo­bil­ers care enough to sub­mit com­ments on is­sues that im­pact their rid­ing.

It was no sur­prise when the For­est Ser­vice re­quested an ex­ten­sion to prop­erly an­a­lyze the com­ments be­fore they re­leased their Fi­nal Rule, that the WWA op­posed the re­quest.

It was no sur­prise when the Court ruled against the WWA’s re­quest that the For­est Ser­vice be held in con­tempt of court for miss­ing the dead­line of Septem­ber 9, 2014.

It was no sur­prise when the Court over­turned the WWA’s re­quest that the Court en­ter an in­junc­tion re­quir­ing that all For­est Ser­vice units com­plete on-the-ground im­ple­men­ta­tion of the new rule within five years.

We were not sur­prised that the Court al­lowed the For­est Ser­vice un­til Jan­uary 31, 2015 to pub­lish the Fi­nal Rule. We look for­ward to the re­lease of the Fi­nal Rule, and work­ing to im­ple­ment the Rule.

We are al­most to the fin­ish line -- a lit­tle more than 3 months be­fore the Fi­nal Rule is pub­lished. We are hope­ful that this is a Rule that the snow­mo­bile com­mu­nity can com­ply with – and that it sat­is­fies the WWA’s con­cern over snow­mo­bile man­age­ment.

Since the Judge handed down the de­ci­sion in this case in April, 2013, le­gal fees have ex­ceeded $120,000. We are al­most there – but we need to re­quest con­tri­bu­tions for the Le­gal Ac­tion Fund once again. All con­tri­bu­tions will be greatly ap­pre­ci­ated -- small do­na­tions add up to large amounts. What­ever in­di­vid­u­als, clubs, state as­so­ci­a­tions, and busi­nesses can con­trib­ute will be ap­pre­ci­ated.

We’re al­most there – but we need a lit­tle more to get us to the end of this process. Or­ga­nized snow­mo­bil­ers re­spond when there is a threat to the ac­cess we en­joy!

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