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For the week of Mar. 1 through Mar. 7, 2000

Snowmobiles vs. skiers

Cross-country skiers and snowmobilers are like oil and water—they don’t mix.

Sawtooth Forest supervisor Bill LeVere promised this week that unless the two groups resolve their differences by Oct. 1, he will do it for them, probably by designating separate areas for snowmobiles and skiers.

We welcome LeVere’s intervention.

To most cross-country skiers, snowmobiles are like second-hand smoke. Their fumes are noxious. Their noise is inescapable and pervades the landscape for miles around. They ruin the serenity sought by skiers in the snowbound landscape.

Some freedom-seeking snowmobilers behave as though there are no limits on where their machines should go. With ever more powerful engines, they seek ever higher altitudes, undeterred by their damage to winter-stressed wildlife. They gleefully and thoughtlessly trash carefully groomed cross-country ski trails.

Yes, these are the bad apples, but they have driven skiers to demand that the Forest Service confine and regulate the snow-gobbling machines.

The conflict has been simmering underground for years. Local peacemakers from both groups repeatedly tried and failed to come to any kind of agreement on how the two groups could live together—or apart. So, the skiers decided to organize.

The decision by the Forest Service to step in is a healthy one. As all journalists know, deadlines have a marvelous way of focusing the mind and producing results.


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