Meeting in the middle

Motorized and non-motorized users are unified in their efforts to protect their natural playground

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Scenic shot of an alpine lake.

Creating awareness of the needs of the environment will help to ensure that future generations of motorized and non-motorized backcountry users will have plenty of pristine wilderness areas to enjoy. — Larry Chambers photo

While in the winter months we enjoy shredding it up on our sleds, summertime finds our family enjoying a mix of fly-fishing, horseback riding, golf, ATVing and single-track dirt biking to bring spark to our free time. Many powersports athletes advocate for environmentally friendly stewardship of our natural habitat, reaching out to all enthusiasts, in the hopes of inspiring them to leave the most minute environmental impact possible in their play zone.

Environmental stewardship

There was a time when the average sledder or dirt bike enthusiast was seen as an environmental terrorist. I do have to admit I may have a shirt hidden deep within my closet relating to trees being traction, but this is not how I perceive nature and the wonderful area I play in. There are great efforts on our part to try to preserve nature and habitat in the areas we frequent.

During my time with the Kokanee Country Snowmobile Club in Creston, B.C., great effort to protect newly planted cut blocks was one of the club’s top priorities. While it may not have been an area of official closure, it is an area that is environmentally sensitive. Those infant seedlings needed protection to ensure their growth. The last thing they needed was a three-inch track ripping them up in times of low snow. Self-policing and education of our peers is one of our greatest contributors to positivity for public image, land protection and preservation, which will perhaps inspire new riders to try it out—riders who may have dismissed the activity based upon the negative stigma attached. 

A role model

Every sport needs a champion. David Norona is just that—in more ways than one. A list of his many activities includes sledding, sled-skiing, ski touring, moto, moto trials, mountain biking, kite surfing, surf ski paddling, running and road biking. Norona is always out there, reaching out to the general public, sharing safety tips and tips on how to preserve and protect nature along the way.

Norona believes there are two sides to the riding mentality: the extreme green people who think nothing belongs in the pristine wilderness, and the extreme destroyer, the person who feels they can do anything they want, regardless of the consequence.

Norona likes a balance, as he spends his time building sustainable trails for each group. If you poke around the web, you’ll find web edits he produced, which provide instruction on building trails with the least environmental impact possible. He has no hesitation when it comes to reaching out to the world. Besides being the Canadian ambassador for Ski-Doo, he is also one of five people to cross-country ski across the Iditarod trail in Alaska, a trek of over 1,800 kilometres. If that isn’t enough, he was the top adventure racer in Canada for 12 years and a junior Canadian national duathlon team member in his younger years.

In a perfect world, Norona would love to see more unification of clubs, creating a larger pool of resources and finances. It takes dollars to sustain riding areas and if there is more unification, the prosperity of the unified group would result in much more power than with tiny groups scattered throughout our province and country.

Getting the word out

How do we meet in the middle? How do we unify? Social networking has created more intimacy for enthusiasts, enabling them to reach out to one another in times of recreation and in times of work. It’s amazing how quickly it can happen.

Larry Chambers and Lawna Bourassa came into Main Jet Motorsports in Nelson, B.C., one day while I was working. They purchased a Polaris RZR side-by-side, and were eager to meet people to ride with. They joined their local club, but felt they needed a little bit more—something to help them reach out to others, so they could experience new terrain to ride in, and share some of their areas with others.

They are probably two of the most enthusiastic and welcoming people I have ever met. It was all about reaching out for them, so they started a Facebook group called Nelson/Castlegar and Beyond ATV/UTV. The response was nothing short of amazing. Within the first hour of existence, the group grew to 20 users. I watched as people joined the group and started sharing pictures and stories.

Making a difference

Through the creation of the Nelson/Castlegar and Beyond ATV/UTV group, strong relations with other clubs were sparked. More rides were planned and more people linked together participating in a sport we all love. All it took was for Larry and Lawna to say, “Look, someone needs to do something,” then to become the someone who fuels a fire of activity!

Creating awareness by reaching out to fellow enthusiasts will keep the ball of power rolling. Momentum seems to be on the side of responsibility and preservation. This momentum will ensure that generations of motorized and non-motorized users will have a multitude of pristine areas to spend their time in. Thank you for making a difference.  

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