Some sledders never buy memberships with local snowmobile clubs for a variety of reasons, I have heard arguments where they state that they don’t ride groomed trails, they believe that the Crown land is open to everyone and people shouldn’t have to pay, I have heard people say that the membership fee is a too much to pay, and I have heard that because the trails are not pristine every ride, that they don’t want to pay. Whatever the reason people use to justify not buying a Club membership, they are wrong.
The role of snowmobile clubs goes beyond groomed trails and beyond what many people see because most of the hard and important work occurs behind the scenes as they advocate for our sport with various government agencies, environmental groups, as well as with the media.
Snowmobile clubs are the organized voice for sledding in the Province, without them, the individual sledder is vulnerable to aggressive groups and organizations that, if they had their way, would have us shut out of the backcountry in all areas, permanently. Snowmobile clubs are made up of volunteers, often just a handful of people that do the heavy lifting for the rest of us, they attend local, provincial and national meetings, they coordinate with local stakeholders as well as take care of the day to day running of a large organization, often, all done without pay. Most people do not volunteer in their day to day life, so they don’t know the time and effort it takes to make good things happen. It’s always a small minority of people in society that coach local sports, that organize fundraisers or give their time to the needy of society. Modern societies cannot function without volunteerism or local people taking up a cause, snowmobile clubs are no different, this sport is a worthy cause, In short, your local Club works hard for us and our sport so that we can enjoy sledding in the backcountry.
Sledders often assume that the backcountry will always be available to us, that the government values the economic contributions sledding provides for many communities in the mountains, but that is false. We have seen over and over again that the government is willing to shut entire industries under the guise of protecting the environment and backcountry from users like us. Governments respond to the loudest voices that argue that they represent a large volume of voters and if the politician doesn’t do what they are told, the vocal group will organize against them. So many anti-sledding groups are very vocal, well funded by people from far away places such as New York and California with long term goals to remove sledding from the backcountry. Just one example is the Yukon to Yellowstone Initiative, their stated goal is to turn most of the mountains from the Yukon to Yellowstone to motorized free zones, and they are well organized and extremely well-funded and have tremendous clout when it comes to government decision makers, and they are just one of hundreds of groups that hate what sledders do and enjoy. If you click on the Yukon to Yellowstone link, you will see that almost all the mountain areas we love to access, and ride are on their list to convert to motorized free zones, so you know that we are on their hit list. Snowmobile clubs are one of our strongest voices in support for our sport, they are made up of sledders and focus on not only protecting the existing riding areas, they also lobby for continued access to as much of the backcountry as possible, but they cannot do this without public support.
Your club membership helps pay for representatives to lobby the government on our behalf, it helps pay for education programs for the public and for our members to respect closure areas. The fee pays for groomed trails, and your membership shows the government power brokers that the Club speaks for lots of people. Clubs do not get multimillionaires donating huge funds to fight for our cause, they survive on the small fee you pay for the club membership. What is paramount is for our industry to educate the public that we are truly stewarts of the backcountry, we love the backcountry, we are out there enjoying nature and we are best suited to help preserve it. We need to get this message across, just like Duck's Unlimited was started by hunters for the preservation of wetlands, we need to be seen a people that want to preserve the backcountry for ALL users because we love the mountains we ride.
There are many reasons to join a snowmobile club, because the small fee you pay goes to pay for groomed trails, support for search and rescue, signage, nice mountain warming huts, but most importantly, they are the organized voice for our sport against people and organizations that never sleep, they are relentless in their opposition to what we love to do. Join you local club now, support the organizations that are advocates for our sport or idly watch as very powerful forces eliminate our sport.
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We are people that love sledding in the backcountry, we love getting out and away from the crowds and enjoying the challenge of the deep snow and mountains. We love the Revelstoke area, we believe it to be the best place to backcountry sled. We are people that dedicate a lot of time to becoming better sledders and we want to pass this passion onto others as we believe there is no better sport than sledding in the backcountry.