Forest Service Official: Clean Snowmobile Challenge Helps Sustain the Natural World

By Marcia Goodrich | Published

The US Forest Service's second-highest ranking official told participants in the 2009 SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge that their efforts contribute to the future of America's wild places.

"Our mission as an agency is sustaining America's forests and grasslands," Joel D. Holtrop, deputy chief of the national forest system, said March 21 at the Challenge awards banquet. "We won't be able to do that unless people love the outdoors."

The Forest Service is a longtime sponsor of the Challenge.

Recreation connects the public with the natural world, he said. Snowmobiling in particular brings people to the forest in winter, when they can experience the beauty of the woods at a time when many people barricade themselves indoors.

"Some of our best partners are snowmobilers," Holtrop said. "They aren't just our partners, they're our friends.

Holtrop noted that the sport has raised concerns among some groups. "There are people who worry about the impacts of snowmobiling," he said. "But the cleaner the machines are, the quieter they are, the easier it will be to manage this recreational opportunity for the benefit of all Americans."

"You are making a difference," he told the 200-plus student engineers, advisors, sponsors and organizers of the Clean Snowmobile Challenge. "You are establishing your legacy: caring for the natural world. We are very grateful for your help."

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.