Letters to the Editor 

On the meaning of hospitality, snowmobiling, a down under perspective and thanks again.

Page 4 of 6

Grist and others should be lobbying the government to open more of the thousands of acres of provincial parks for self-propelled backcountry. Imagine nice, plowed parking areas from which you can self propel your way into the backcountry and not even see a helicopter.

Anyone unhappy with the outcome of the forum shouldn’t blame the snowmobilers. The governing body that agreed with all the concessions has not done its part in enforcing the non-motorized areas. Signage and education are required.

I agree there needs to be some areas to ski in peace and quiet. The provincial parks offer exactly what people like Grist are looking for, and they don’t even have to fight for it.

Lincoln Ferguson


A view from Down Under

I’d like to add an Australian perspective to the backcountry snowmobile letters initiated by Al Whitney’s observations. Although the issues of 4WDs on beaches aren’t exactly the same as those for snowmobiles, there are some overlaps and recent developments down here (in Australia) that might provide an additional perspective.

Just offshore of where I live in Queensland is one of the world’s largest sand islands. It’s called Stradbroke Island (Minjerriba). The island is a tourist destination; it has white sand beaches, warm blue water, plenty of sea life and great surf. The beaches of this island are popular with that icon of Australian outback ruggedness, the 4WD truck. And on most weekends the beaches are packed with recreational motorists enjoying the sun and the surf, much like their snowmobile cousins on the snowy ridges and bowls of the backcountry.

In the same way that snowmobiles undermine the enjoyment (for people) or livability (for wildlife) of the backcountry, 4WD beach motorists are equally problematic. For the non-motoring public there are issues of safety as well as visual and noise pollution, but those often boil down to values-based arguments that are challenging to resolve. And until recently, it was hard to argue that 4WDs had an impact on the ecological integrity of the beach because all you really see is sand – empty miles of it (except for the tire tracks, of course). However, as any marine biologist (or reasonably observant individual) will tell you, all kinds of animals live below the surface amongst the sand grains. Clams, ghost crabs, worms, crustaceans, larval forms of different invertebrates… make their home in the sand.

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