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Snowmobile renegades start avalanche in Three Sisters Wilderness

An Editorial
The Bulletin, Bend, Oregon
March 3, 2004

Snowmobilers are very conspicuous users of public land. Their machines are large, loud, fast and, for the most part, smelly. For these reasons, many forest users who prefer to enjoy snow in silence hate snowmobiles, and they'd continue to do so even if every snowmobiler were a law-abiding model of civility. That's why responsible snowmobilers - and we believe the vast majority of snowmobilers are responsible - owe it to themselves to police their less responsible peers.

On Saturday, a renegade snowmobiler entered the Three Sisters Wilderness, zipped around some ridges and caused an avalanche. Snowmobiles are not permitted in wilderness areas, as this person must have known. He or she passed two wilderness, boundary signs without turning back. Breaking the law, though, was nothing compared to the snowmobiler's unconscionable disregard for the safety of other people. Somebody could have been buried in the avalanche and killed.

Saturday's incident was hardly unprecedented. According to officials with the Deschutes National Forest, snowmobilers cross illegally into wilderness areas on most weekends. Snowmobilers aren't worse people than skiers or snowshoers, to be sure. They just have more horsepower. They also operate under a tighter array of restrictions.

It would be pretty tough for a skier, with the wilderness open to his use, to make enough of a nuisance of himself to be called a "renegade." Likewise, we have a hard time imagining a reckless snowshoer menacing anything bigger than squirrels.

Because snowmobiles are so conspicuous, people notice when their operators ignore the law and the safety of others. And as snowmobilers surely know, there are plenty of people just aching to push them off of public land. Responsible snowmobilers should be especially zealous, then, to curtail the types of activity (their opponents can use against them.

And What better way to curtail illegal and dangerous behavior than reporting the people who misbehave? Anyone who witnessed Saturday's illegal excursion, and anyone who witnesses similar behavior in the future, should give the police a call.

The Bulletin





Read more . . .
SNOWMOBILES - a history of this discussion:
Snowmobile parking at Kapka Butte and Dutchman Flat revisited in 2009  
Proposed Tumalo Recreation Zone in the Deschutes National Forest in 2009  
Snowmobiler falls 1,500' into Mt. St. Helens and survives
Map of snowmobile restrictions at Dutchman Flat  
Snowmobile restrictions published for Dutchman Flat  
Snowmobile Safety Summit on Dutchman Flat area  
Report snowmobile renegades - an Editorial
Snowmobiles should not mix with skiers and snowshoers
Snowmobile accident draws $11 million dollar damage award
Snowmobilers keep the Atta Boy Race on track
Snowmobilers must give a little on parking at Dutchman Flat  
Recent snowmobile accidents near Bend
Set snowmobile limits at Dutchman Flat  
Unregulated OHV use is being reviewed across the western states
Snowmobile access to summit of Mt. St. Helens questioned by The Mountaineers
Snowmobile speed limits on Dutchman Flat in Oregon  
Snowmobiles offer thrills
Snowmobiles in Yellowstone
Snowmobiles as a tool for traditional mountaineering