QUEBEC TRAIL COMPROMISE
Quebec Transport Minister Julie Boulet has come up with some new rules for snowmobiling in the province, where she has tried to balance landowner rights with snowmobile access. The proposals were in response to a legal case involving a section of the Petit Train du Nord converted rail trail. Her proposals were passed through the Quebec assembly, and became law on December 16. Provisions of the new law include a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew on rail trails, unless local municipalities make a by-law to allow additional access, and a speed limit of 20 mph on trails that pass within 30 meters of a residence. Volunteer wardens will now have full enforcement rights. Legal action regarding snowmobile trails will be placed on hold until May 1, 2006, and starting in this coming spring, high snowmobile traffic areas will be the subject of special study.
WYOMING JOINS YELLOWSTONE LAWSUIT
The State of Wyoming has joined a lawsuit challenging National Park Service (NPS) snowmobile rules in Yellowstone National Park and nearby Grand Teton National Park.
The NPS issued temporary rules restricting the number of snowmobiles in Yellowstone to 720 units a day and requiring all recreational snowmobilers to travel with a commercial guide. In Grand Teton, 140 sledders are able to operate daily with no guide.
The lawsuit, filed in November by the Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association in U.S. District Court, seeks to ease the restrictions and challenges the mandated use of guides.
TREAD LIGHTLY TRAINING
Tread Lightly will sponsor Master Tread Trainer training at nine locations in the United States this year. The Master Tread Trainer is a program to train volunteers in creative, practical methods of teaching outdoor ethics as it relates to motorized use. Following the one-day seminar, a Master Tread Trainer will be qualified to train other outdoor users — educators, clubs, employees, visitors, scouts or community members to be “Tread Trainers” as well. The seminar costs $75, including materials, and scholarships are available. For more information or registration, call 800/966-9900 or view www.treadlightly.org/trainer.mv. The schedule is: February 12, Windsor, Conn.; March 16, Ontario, Calif.; March 18, Wabeno, Wis.; April 2, Erie, Penn.; April 9, Indianapolis, Ind.; April 18, Boise, Idaho; May 21, New Jersey; May 7, Anniston, Ala.; June 10, Anchorage, Alaska.
LAW BANS HEADLIGHT COVERS
This winter, Michigan snowmobile patrols are enforcing a new law banning the use of colored snowmobile headlight covers. The law was passed in March 2004. The law, which was supported by the Michigan Snowmobile Association, was cited as an important safety measure. The argument for the law claims that placing colored inserts over headlights reduces visibility and increased the chances of drivers overrunning headlights. There had also been reported cases of mistaken identity: red-covered headlights being confused with taillights and red or blue covered headlights mistaken for law enforcement officers.