State Of The Sport: Update On Snowmobiles In North America

News Ed Klim - President, International Snowmobile Manufacturer's Association
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Haslett, MI - Snowmobiling is a catalyst for winter economies in the snowbelt of North America that generates over $26 billion in annual spending by participants and providing jobs, taxes and recreation when many hibernate. More than 2 million recreationists enjoy snowmobiling in the U.S. and another 700,000 in Canada each year.

The players are many and diverse, but they are all integral in moving the sport forward. They include:

  • Individual riders
  • Clubs
  • State and provincial associations
  • American Council of Snowmobile Associations (ACSA) and Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations (CCSO)
  • International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA)

ISMA’s role is one of leadership from the four Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) on issues that affect the sport, especially in the areas of laws and policy with governmental units on the manufacturer of products, and also with access and protection. Below are some of the ways the four OEMs are involved on a daily basis through ISMA.

  • The manufacturers collectively helped establish and are significant supporters and contributors to the American Council of Snowmobile Associations and the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations. These are the true activation arms for organization, political and funding issues in their respective countries.
  • ISMA’s members, along with ACSA and CCSO, support clubs and associations in efforts to expand and protect trails, riding areas and other organized club activities.   Financial support through grant programs and industry expertise and knowledge is available to support staff and volunteers.
  • The ISMA Safe Riders program, sponsored by the manufacturers, began in 1995 and continues today. The program support materials are available free of charge to clubs, dealers, associations and safety trainers. The campaign includes, posters, brochures, safety videos and other materials.
  • ISMA’s avalanche safety education and outreach support began 10 years ago. Three years ago, ISMA partnered with Ascender 360 to make education access even easier through an online program. ISMA supports and communicates on a regular basis with the American Avalanche Association, Avalanche Canada and the U.S. Forest Service Avalanche safety training teams.
  • ISMA announced a new Safe Riders video series featuring 13 chapters covering key issues on snowmobile safety Sept. 6. The series will be available soon to support safety education and market expansion. Clubs and associations will be encouraged to use the new videos to promote membership as well as safety.
  • The manufacturers, in cooperation with ACSA and the CCSO, work closely with land managers regarding trail management, maintenance, mountain riding designation and proper postings.
  • ISMA and ACSA have jointly intervened on behalf of states, clubs, riders and even the U.S. Forest Service more than 12 times on land access issues, protecting riders when unnecessarily attacked, especially in the Western U.S. The most recent example is ISMA’s intervention in the Over Snow Vehicle Plan in the Lassen Forest in California within the past year.
  • ISMA and ACSA have been involved since 1999 in numerous lawsuits preserving the right to ride in the oldest national park, Yellowstone, to assure the precedent set there is one of inclusion.
  • ISMA has sponsored scientific studies that have proven no detrimental effects of snowmobiling on soil, vegetation or wildlife.
  • ISMA continually sponsors economic impact studies to show the importance of winter recreation to towns, counties and states in the snowbelt region.
  • The manufacturers continue to develop snowmobile engines that are clean. New snowmobiles have EPA certified engines, which ensure clean air and water and healthy recreation.
  • Sound levels and emission levels continue to decline in snowmobiles with new state-of-the-art exhaust and related sound systems. All snowmobiles pass a rigorous set of safety tests—including sound and emission testing. The tests are conducted by a recognized independent third-party testing laboratory.
  • ACSA and CCSO, with support from ISMA, organize a Fly-In every year to Washington DC and numerous receptions in Ottawa to personally visit the law makers and Ministers from snowmobiling states and provinces, reminding them of the importance of snowmobiling and giving them updates on snowmobiling activities in their states and provinces.

While the manufacturers play an important role, our sport is dependent on volunteers to make it work. ISMA encourages all snowmobilers to support the sport in some small way whenever possible, no matter if you live in Alberta, Colorado, New Brunswick or New York, there are many other snowmobilers volunteering on your behalf.

Make your voice heard too by joining a local snowmobile club, a state or provincial association, and ACSA or CCSO—even if you can only contribute with your dollars. It all truly helps.

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