74. Demand more public land so that snowmobile and all-terrain-vehicle riders can coexist peaceably with birders.

Family hike

Snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) cause three main problems: excessive noise, air pollution, and erosion. If their operators were mindful of these problems and worked as a force to get manufacturers to reduce both noise and emissions, and if they would police their own numbers to keep everyone on prescribed trails and in legal off-trail areas, they would have fewer clashes with conservationists and environmentalists.

The pollution from two-stroke engines is simply unacceptable in this day and age; the technology is certainly available to devise something that produces fewer emissions. The noise may contribute to the thrill for some operators, but I’ve seen many snowmobilers wearing high-tech noise-reducing ear protectors, so I suspect that the noise isn’t appealing to most of them, either.

As more land is taken up for private development, more pressure is placed on public land. In winter, birders and other hikers must often share trails with cross-country skiers and snowmobilers. Since snowmobiles and some skiers pay fees for the privilege of using those trails, many are becoming limited-use trails, with fewer available for birding and hiking. There is clearly a need for more high-quality public land, rather than simply divvying up existing public land among more and more users. But this will happen only when birders, conservationists, snowmobilers, skiers, ATV riders, and everyone else who uses public land join together to demand that more public land be set aside.

From 101 Ways to Help Birds, published by Stackpole in 2006. Please consider buying the book to show that there is a market for bird conservation books. (Photos, links, and updated information at the end of some entries are not from the book.)