Snowmobile tour operators facing new rules | SierraSun.com

Snowmobile tour operators facing new rules

Paul Raymore

Snowmobile tours, like this one at Northstar last winter, will have to implement new safety measures if a bill recently passed in the California Senate is signed by the governor.

Local snowmobile tour operators will likely face new safety rules next winter if California Assembly Bill 1818 is signed into law.The bill, which recently passed the state Senate and awaits action by Gov. Schwarzenegger, will require snowmobile tour operators to have guides who are CPR-certified and to provide customers with training on how to operate a snowmobile as well as basic first aid and survival equipment including a shovel and flashlight.Inspired by a Bay Area woman’s death while she was on a tour-guided snowmobiling excursion in El Dorado County a year and a half ago, the bill was authored by California State Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Leland Yee, Ph.D., of the 12th Assembly District.”AB 1818 is now just one signature away from becoming law and helping to prevent another tragic loss of life,” Yee said. “Regrettably, there are still some snowmobile rental companies that senselessly do not have in place basic first aid equipment or provide CPR training for their guides.”

Local snowmobile tour operators contacted by the Sierra Sun were not worried about the new requirements.”We’ve always had those things from the very inception of our business,” said Cindy Wolff, co-owner of Snowmobiling Unlimited, Inc., referring to the provision that customers be provided with flashlights and shovels when on a guided tour.Wolff, whose company runs tours on Tahoe National Forest land near Brockway Summit, argued that making such basic safety measures into law was overkill because snowmobile tour operators live by their reputations for safety.”I’m so blown away that this would be legislation,” she said. “Though I guess it’s a good idea if some [tour operator] is that dumb.”Larry Hahn, whose company Cold Stream Adventure Unlimited, Inc. guides snowmobilers on excursions through the Cold Stream valley near Truckee, said that the proposed rules would not be an imposition.

“We’ve been doing that from day one,” he said. “Our insurance companies make us do all that.”Hahn was more concerned with a provision included in an early draft of the bill that would have outlawed nighttime tours – a restriction that he claimed would not make sense and would not increase safety on tours. That provision was dropped in the amended version of the bill that passed the state Senate.SidebarSnowmobiling safety tips from Cindy Wolff of Snowmobiling Unlimited, Inc.:

• Make sure your machine is in good operating condition and bring basic tools and replacement parts (e.g. wrenches, spare plugs) in case you break down.• Always let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back.• Know where you’re going – research the trails, bring a map.• Bring along safety equipment such as warm clothing and boots, food, water, waterproof matches, an emergency blanket, cell phone, a rope to tow yourself back in, flashlight, hand warmers, first aid kit and a helmet.• Have respect for the environment, other snowmobilers and other trail users.