Snowmobiling on rails is misunderstood

To the editor:

I would like to respond to some recent opinions expressed in the Enterprise. It is apparent that some commenters don’t understand the reality of snowmobiling on the railroad tracks. They seem to think the tracks are not an issue and the snowmobiles can travel freely on them all winter. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It takes much more snow to make the tracks usable than it does other trails. Often times the tracks are barely covered and too dangerous to ride on or groom. There are areas where the rails are wide open and windblown, and what little snow may fall is blown away. Also, when rails are exposed and warmed by the sun, the snow melts and exposes more rails, which in turn are warmed up, and more snow melts. I think you get the picture. It’s not really about extending the season; it’s about having good conditions throughout the season.

While I understand the argument that there are many miles of other trails to ride on, the rail corridor is a major snowmobile route that connects the Utica area to the Canadian border. I am not aware of any other trail that does that. I think that route being used as a snowmobile corridor can bring more business into the area than the train ever will. Rail supporters talk in terms of tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars of economic benefit. Snowmobiling involved hundreds of MILLIONS of dollars in economic benefit – $868 million in the state of New York, including $245 million in the Adirondacks.

It’s unfortunate that some of these people resort to name calling toward those who disagree with them – as in “selfish.” That word was used in two different opinions. The comment that snowmobilers can use the rail corridor for half a year is preposterous. The season is three months, more or less, in a good winter. It is difficult to have a rational discussion when outrageous and unfounded arguments are used.

Yours truly,

Stuart Nichols

Tupper Lake