HOW GREEN ARE WE?
Being a family run business we are highly sensitive to how our business affects the environment and the pristine wilderness in our backyard.
A comprehensive snowmobile machine safety standards program is sponsored by the Snowmobile Safety and Certification Committee (SSCC), a non-profit organization interested in safe snowmobiling. The SSCC covers every vital component of the snowmobile, including setting maximum permissible sound levels of no more than 78 dB(A) ± 2 dB(A) at 50 feet when the snowmobile is traveling at full throttle and no more than 73 dB(A) ± 2 dB(A) at 50 feet when the snowmobile is traveling at 15 mph. For comparison purposes, normal conversation at three feet produces approximately 70 dB(A).This SSCC sound standard exceeds state government standards in all snow belt states. The compliance of a snowmobile with the SSCC standard is indicated by the SSCC’s black and white certification label, which is generally placed on the right rear tunnel of the machine.
In a paper written by Michigan Technological University, tests were performed comparing sound emission of production trail-ridden snowmobiles to that of other everyday vehicles traveling on a paved road. The tests show in many cases, snowmobiles are noticeably quieter. In a worst case scenario, a snowmobile leaving a stop sign and applying full throttle, the noise produced is still about the same as a very common vehicle simply cruising down the road.
Most importantly to note, Bear Valley Snowmobile will not do “mods” to the exhaust systems of privately owned snowmobiles which cause more noise pollution when done. In most states and provinces this practice is illegal and grossly misrepresents the sport.
The reason Bear Valley Snowmobiles prefers Ski-Doo snowmobiles is not only because of their up-to-date innovations but because of their low impact on the environment. Ski-Doo has one of the lowest emissions rating in the market on their 2 stroke models and “near zero” emission on the four stroke models.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency is the first government agency in the world to set emissions standards for snowmobiles. Folks like the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) are encouraging the Canada and the European Union meet these same standards. To review the EPA emission reports: www.epa.gov/otaq/certdata.htm
It is interesting to note, according to the EPA, snowmobiling contributes as little as 0.07% of North America’s carbon emission. There are over 2.3 million snowmobiles registered in North America – 23,000 of which are in California.
Snowmobiles in general have less impact on the terrain they cover than a person walking. In many jurisdictions, snowmobiles are not even classified as an off road vehicles. This fact is documented by the US Dept of the Interior in their environmental statement, “A major distinction is warranted between snowmobiles and other types of off road vehicles. Snowmobiles operated on adequate snow cover have little effect on soils and hence cause less severe indirect impacts on air and water quality and on soil-dependent biotic communities as other off road vehicles do.” The statement concludes, “Where snowmobiles are used exclusively over snow on road and trails, the impact on vegetation is indeed virtually nil.”
- Terrain impact comparisons:
- 4×4 – 30.0 psi
- Horse – 8.0 psi
- Man – 5.0 psi
- ATV – 1.5 psi
- Snowmobile – 0.5 psi
Effects on Wildlife
In a comprehensive 3 year study by the University of Wisconsin on the effects of snowmobile sound levels on deer and cottontail rabbits it was concluded that “only minor reactions were noted in the movements of cottontail rabbits and white tailed deer to moderate and intensive snowmobiling activity.” The study also stated that it had not been possible to determine sound levels at which there is a clear reaction on the part of the deer “because snowmobiles must be so close to the deer to generate the higher levels that other factors such as visible presence….are likely to be more important.” When comparing the reaction of deer to the presence of cross-country skiers, the Wisconsin study it found the deer moved away from the trail more frequently.
Similar studies were performed by Maine by the Maine Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, Forest Wildlife Biologists of the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire, University of Minnesota with similar results.
Addressing the subject of snowmobile operations in Yellowstone National Park, Jack Anderson, a form Superintendent of Yellowstone commented, “We found elk, bison, moose, even the fawns, wouldn’t move away unless a machine was stopped and a person stated walking. As long as you stayed on the machine and the machine was running, they never paid any attention. If you stopped the machine, got off and started moving, that was a different story. The thing that seemed to be disturbing to them was a man walking on foot.”
Statistics indicate that only approximately 10-15% of snowmobile accidents occur on well maintained and designed trails. Our first concern for our rental customers is safety which is why rental customers are only allowed to ride on our wide twenty foot wide groomed trails.
For our new snowmobile owners we offer a one hour session to explain safety, dig out techniques and overall snowmobiling “know-how”.
Snowmobilers have historically “paid their own way” for the development, grooming, and maintenance of snowmobile trail systems often enjoyed by not only snowmobilers, but snow shoers, cross country skiers and hiking enthusiasts. Funding for the Lake Alpine and Spicer trail system and Sno Parks include
- Snowmobile registrations Fees
- Snowmobile gas tax rebates
- OHV stickers
- Trail Permits and
- Snowmobile user permits
Bear Valley Snowmobile always looks for ways to protect the environment. Even in our own shop we recycle the aluminum from snowmobile parts. What we can not recycle is taken to a Recycle center 2 hours away from Bear Valley in Milton.
Future of Snowmobiling
The future will see the snowmobile itself continue to improve in dependability, reliability and quality for all consumers. Manufacturers, such as Bombardier, using the latest in technology and science, are working and investing in order that all aspects of the machine are updated to serve the needs of a growing populace.