The Testosterone Bloggers


Snowmobiles on tour - YellowstoneWith just a hint of snow in the upper elevations, and a gentle rain in our neighborhood, there is already a re-start of the “SNOWMOBILE DEBATE.” It’s a sad state of affairs when seemingly adults persevere in such blatant negativity and closed-minded perspectives.

There will be no names mentioned, but you can GOOGLE the following string and see: Yellowstone Environment Winter Snowmobile Controversy (+/- blog).

They call themselves ‘realists,’ or ‘environmentalists,’ or ‘advocates,’ or some such cute label to bring sympathy to their closed-minded negativity. They also start their discussion “in the middle,” with no premises agreed upon. This is true no matter which of the many sides that you find yourself on.

For this discussion I propose we agree on the following: current snowmobiles are too noisy, current snowmobiles generate unacceptable levels of negative emissions, the snowmobile industry is too slow in addressing these problems, snowmobiles are vehicles that must be regulated in Yellowstone National Park, winter, (a time of stress for animals and plants,) requires special attention to ALL MODES of visitor transportation.

a-yel-moto.jpg{As a brief aside: 50% of the motorcycles that use Yellowstone National Park are both louder and more polluting than 100% of the current generation of 4-stroke snowmobiles.}

So, if we agree on the above problems, how can we solve them? Quick – jump to banning them all. Don’t even think that there should be rigorous enforcement of noise and pollutions standards.

It’s time to be positive and rational in the debate of this topic. The underlying question has not been addressed since 1989. How can we make snowmobiles clean enough and quiet enough so that they do not pose a threat to the environment or visitor experience in Yellowstone?

The solution is too simple to be controversial. Measure the noise and pollution levels of the currently sanctioned winter vehicles. Then, mandate that the snowmobiles be cleaner and quieter. If spurious arguments about pollution/passenger mile hold sway – then use those standards.

There is no need to argue about individual instances or anecdotes about violations – that is a law enforcement problem: and that applies to all park visitors.

a-ball-bulge.jpgThe viewpoint that somehow a spandex-clad bicycle rider, (with bulging balls and cleated shoes on the old wooden floors of the historic buildings,) is more conducive to a pleasant visitor experience than is a snow-suit clad sled rider, (with droopy pants and squeaky rubber boots,) is stupid and sadly irrelevant. They are both obscene in many ways. Stick to pollution and noise!

Arguments that focus on behavior and law enforcement should not be confused with regulatory stipulations. The speed limit in the park, (summer or winter,) is a regulation – period. The enforcement of the regulation is law enforcement.

The snowmobile industry has got to step up and perform. The environmental industry has got to concentrate on clean access for visitors rather than expressing rage against a machine. Safe, clean access should be the topic – not exclusion or exclusivity.

Here are related, but not central points to consider: A) banning snowmobiles adds to the further commercialization of Yellowstone in the winter, B) Bombardier Snow Coaches have poor brakes, poor visibility, cramped seating, and no provisions for seat belts, C) If the concept of “best available technology” is applied to one form of transportation, – it should be applied to all forms of transportation, D) dictating the visitor experience by subjecting them to rancid jokes by poorly informed “guides” does a disservice to the visitor and to Yellowstone, E) believing that there is only one valid form of visitor experience is asinine.

So there you have it. I think that the problem is the combatants, not the pollution or thea-sacklin.jpg noise. It’s time for all concerned to address the problem head on – maybe a woman should head the planning department at Yellowstone. There would be far less testosterone, and she wouldn’t think it’s funny to joke about shooting snowmobiles and their riders.

Before you get your Haynes In A Bunch; get informed.

History of Snowmobiles (Wikipedia)

Snowmobiles, the early years

Yellowstone Motorized Recreation (Focus West)

Sane Snowmobile Experiences (Guess Where)


There is one environmental danger that is potentially the most damaging, and has received little to no attention from an interest group that should be much more deeply involved. What is it?

The accumulated pollution in the snow, from all forms of winter transportation, is released by rapid melting in the Spring. This results in toxic shock to the rivers and streams. It is sudden, concentrated, and detrimental to the fish and all other aquatic forms. Where are the fishermen in this argument. This will not go away with the banning of snowmobiles – it may even get worse with the added concentration of large V-8’s, and the heavier byproducts of 4-stroke combustion.


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