No matter what you do an important thing to take into consideration is responsibility. Whether it's your job, your hobby, or anything else, you should always respect what is around you. The same holds true when you are riding a snowmobile.

Environmental concerns can cause a lot of tension between snowmobile riders and conservationists. These type of confrontations usually involve heated tempers and huge generalizations from both sides. Lines are drawn in the sand (or snow) and neither will cross to see the other's point of view.

For the snowmobile rider, it is important to understand the concerns set forth for the environment. Fortunately, most do. Like hikers, campers, and other outdoors enthusiasts, the vast majority of snowmobile riders have a healthy respect and concern for the environment they play and often live in.

One of the main concerns brought up is the deterioration of the forest sled tracks cause. While there can be some weight to this claim, it is not nearly as bad as one might be led to believe. First and foremost, the total area on which sleds are allowed is quite small compared to the huge landmass on which they are prohibited. Secondly, snowmobiles are only used for a few months out of the year in most places, and when they are, there is a blanket of snow cushioning the ground from the sled.

This is not to say that there is no damage done. There are certainly times when some careless rider can damage plants or cause erosion. This usually happens when someone breaks the rules or leaves the marked trail. This is more the exception than the rule.

Another problem is the undue stress caused to wildlife by the noise snowmobiles produce. Again, this is often exaggerated a great deal. Noise pollution is a serious concern, but nothing like what it is made out to be. While the sleds of thirty years ago may have been unbearably loud, there have been great advances in the subsequent decades, and the average snowmobile now is no louder than a pickup truck. In addition, as mentioned previously, snowmobile area is rather small, and wildlife has plenty of safe land.

Finally, concerns are often cited about the emissions of a sled. Again, manufacturers have made huge steps forward in this field. While emissions will be a concern as long as there are combustion engines, singling out any particular variety is unreasonable.

The fact of the matter is, snowmobile riders have a huge vested interest in protecting the winter playgrounds in which they ride. Despite the few bad apples mixed in with the bunch, most are responsible about and respectful of the environment. As long as they are aware of the possible problems and do their best to avoid them, we will all be able to enjoy many winters of fun. There may even come a day when the outdoor recreationist and the conservationist will learn to get along.