50 Years of Dedication to Snowmobiling
First, how did this 50-year journey start? I got involved in snowmobiling when I purchased my first snowmobile, a 1968 Sears 18 HP SnowCruiser. I was working as Winter Sport Manager at a Sears Store in Lakewood, Colorado…
by Jack Welch
National Snowmobile Ambassador
First, how did this 50-year journey start? I got involved in snowmobiling when I purchased my first snowmobile, a 1968 Sears 18 HP SnowCruiser. I was working as Winter Sport Manager at a Sears Store in Lakewood, Colorado. Now it is 2018 and I, Jack Welch, a veteran of snowmobiling, will celebrate 50 years of dedication to preserving access to public lands for snowmobiling.
The question is how can I quantify 50 years of involvement in organizing and maintaining access for recreational snowmobiling? Is it the number of miles traveled by vehicle? I estimate at least 150,000 miles. Is it the number of miles traveled on snowmobiles? I estimate 125,000 miles. Is it the number of hours attending meetings? I estimate 10,400 hours. Is it the number of meetings attended, for example the International Snowmobile Congress’ (ISC) Western Chapter, International Snowmobile Media Council (ISMC), state snowmobile associations, quarterly meetings, local snowmobile clubs, etc.? I estimate I’ve attended 2,650 meetings in the United States and Canada. Is it the number of meetings and hearings with Governmental agencies such as the U.S. National Forest Service, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. National Park Service, State and local governments, etc? I estimate I’ve gone to 1,800. Is it the number of raffles I have run, and raffle ticket purchased? I estimate I’ve purchased 750 tickets and have run over 100 raffles. Is it the people I have met over the 50 years? Yes, and just to name a few are Kay Lloyd, first President of American Council Snowmobile Associations (ACSA), Ed Klim, President of the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA), Chris Twomey, past CEO of Arctic Cat, Clark Collins, Founder and first Executive Director of the BlueRibbon Coalition, Clyde Seely and Bill Howell, local Yellowstone, MT leaders who are active in the effort to maintain snowmobile access to Yellowstone National Park and many more people. Is it the friends I has made through snowmobiling? There are too many to mention. And finally, is it the number of snowmobiles I have owned in 50 years and the manufacturers that have supported me? This a simple answer. I have owned one Sears SnowCruiser and many Arctic Cat sleds, and the entire snowmobile industry has supported me over these 50 years.
What are some of my contributions to recreational snowmobiling over the last 50 years? I helped found the Colorado State Snowmobile Association. I was also a founding member of several snowmobile clubs, a trail boss, member of a search and rescue team, safety instructor, and volunteer lobbyist. On the state level I was Chairman of the Colorado State Motorized Recreational Trails committee which included snowmobiling. As Chair of that committee I realized that snowmobilers, off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders, and other motorized riders need to get organized, so I worked with these groups and helped create the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition (COHVCO). In addition, I worked with Colorado State Parks in helping create the snowmobile and OHV registration programs. In addition, I have worked with many National Forests on their various planning efforts. After an appointment by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to the Continental Divide Scenic Trails Leadership Council, I soon realized that the issue of motorized use, especially snowmobiling, was under attack as a legitimate use of this national trail. I made sure that snowmobile access had a voice at the table. In addition, I have lead efforts to stop additional Colorado Wilderness Act legislation that would affect snowmobiling access.
Because of my efforts for trail users, Colorado Governor Roy Romer appointed me to the first statewide recreational trails committee where I served for ten years, two of which were as Chairman. During that time, I helped create the BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC). I was elected to Vice President of the Coalition and later as its President. I served the BRC as President for eleven years. I worked with Clark Collins, then Executive Director of BRC, in promoting the original Steve Symms National Recreational Trail Fund Act of 1991, known today as the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). It passed Congress and is today a major funding program for snowmobiling. My experiences over the years have helped me to organize numerous expos, fairs, and conventions, including the first ‘Washington Fly-In Briefing’ on behalf of motorized recreation. I have served as Volunteer Executive Director of the Colorado Snowmobile Association (CSA), conducted fund-raising raffles, help to develop the CSA map and information program, and served as its volunteer Legislative liaison. While keeping up with all of my duties on the State level, I soon moved on to the international level attending International Snowmobile Congresses (ISC) in the United State and Canada. I currently am a member of the International Snowmobile Media Council (ISMC). I also write many monthly snowmobile-related articles for various publications.
Not all my snowmobile activities over the last 50 years have been all ‘work.’ I also have participated in several major snowmobile adventures. First was a “Friendship Ride” across Alaska on the Iditarod dog sled trail and it encompassed eight days of extreme challenges and is one of my fondest experiences. Jack Sheets, Past CSA President, and I put together the ‘Colorado Border to Border’ ride across Colorado from Wyoming to New Mexico. Spanning two weeks it featured forty riders, a bus, 5 semi-trucks, and traveling 1,100 miles on snowmobiles.
I have received numerous awards for my dedicated efforts for snowmobiling. To mention a few they are induction into the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame in 1999, the State of Colorado Leadership Award for their State Recreational Trails Program, Snowmobile Magazine’s ‘Western Snowmobiler of the Year,’ the Iron Dog Brigade’s George A. Eisenhuth ‘Distinguished Service to Snowmobiling Award,’ SnoWest Magazine 40th Anniversary ‘Snowmobile Advocate Award,’ and many more.
Looking back over 50 years of snowmobiling, one thing I have accomplished stands out! And that is my leadership that started in 1997, at the ISC in Toronto, Canada where I was appointed Chairman of the American Council of Snowmobile Associations (ACSA)/BlueRibbon Legal Action Task Force. I have led that Task Force and the snowmobile community to victory by keeping Yellowstone National Park open to snowmobile access for the last 21 years and it is still open to snowmobiles TODAY!