Leonie Sherman
Latest posts by Leonie Sherman (see all)

Snowlands Network preserves human powered winter

Snowmobile trespass. Photo by Jeff Erdoes.

Snowmobile trespass. Photo by Jeff Erdoes.

Imagine gliding through a serene Tahoe glade on a pair of cross country skis. Then imagine a line of snowmobiles blasting through the forest and shattering the peace. Sound familiar? Most likely not—and there is a reason.

Snowlands Network has been quietly advocating for backcountry skiers and other human-powered winter athletes who care about wilderness values for over two decades. The advocacy group works to ensure that future generations can find pristine areas in winter where they can experience solitude while engaging in healthy recreation.

The organization’s founder and President, Marcus Libkind, saw a need as far back as the mid-1980’s for human-powered winter enthusiasts to be represented as the Forest Service at that time was engaged in promoting snowmobiling at the expense of backcountry skiers. Libkind reflects back on Snowland’s beginnings, “I was confronted with the realization that the pressures of commercial development and the use of snowmobiles had, and would, continue to negatively change the landscape where human-powered winter sports took place. It was not a pretty thought.”

The Conservation Committee of the Ski Touring Section of the Sierra Club’s Loma Prieta chapter was thus established, with the independent Snowlands Network created in March 2001 when the Committee’s work became hampered by bureaucracy within the Sierra Club.

Today the 501(c)3 non-profit organization consists of one paid employee who administers the program and is overseen by a board of five directors. Two highly active volunteers round out the leadership, while a whole cadre of additional volunteers pitch in on projects from trail marking to tabling at Earth Day events.

Libkind praises the organization’s volunteer force, explaining “Not everyone is willing to give up their discretionary time to fight for better non-motorized winter recreation opportunities. Fortunately there are some, they created Snowlands Network, and they work tirelessly for the good of the entire backcountry ski, board and snowshoe community. I can’t think of a better way to be thanked than to see our membership grow.”

Snowland’s membership includes backcountry skiers, boarders, snowshoers and others who revel in the joy of muscle-powered recreation in nature’s winter wonderland.

Snowlands Network founder and president, Marcus Libkind, making turns on a descent into the Bear River south of Highway 88.

Snowlands Network founder and president, Marcus Libkind, making turns on a descent into the Bear River south of Highway 88.

Protecting the winter wildland environment—natural sights, sounds, fauna and flora—goes hand-in-hand with protecting opportunities for winter recreation. Snowlands works with other like-minded organization to attain these goals. The organization works with—and sometimes challenges—the US Forest Service in their work to protect current winter recreation opportunities, and expand them where they are inadequate.

Leading the effort to close certain areas to snowmobiles, Snowlands works with snowmobile organizations and the US Forest Service in an effort to find common ground on which everyone will benefit.

In addition to winter travel management efforts, Snowlands marks ski trails, produces trail guide maps, and hosts informative and fun events such as the Backcountry Film Festival in the winter, and the Banff Radical Reels Tour in the fall.

For more information visit snowlands.org

A volunteer installs signs on trail system that was marked by Snowlands Network.

A volunteer installs signs on trail system that was marked by Snowlands Network.

ASJ-EPiC-Stamp_v2-3About ASJ’s EPiC program | Doing great work in California? We want to help you reach your highest potential!

The EPiC program is ASJ’s way to spotlight the exemplary work of some of California’s non-profits that are dedicated to promoting stewardship and access for the adventure sports community throughout California.

Our mission is to provide inspiring coverage of California’s epic terrain, and to help the outdoor sports community preserve and maintain access for future generations.

We encourage outdoor non-profit organizations based in California to contact us for the chance to be featured in our publication and receive FREE display and web advertising space. 

For more information, email asjstaff@adventuresportsjournal.com.