Posthaste Facts on the Environment #27


The Government No Longer Rewards Heroes - It Fines Them


Bobby Unser knows firsthand that the use of environmental regulations frequently has little to do with protecting the environment. For more information, contact John Carlisle at (202) 507-6398.

Bobby Unser, the noted race car driver and winner of three Indy 500 championships, is being threatened with a $5,000 fine and up to six months in jail by the U.S. Forest Service for using a snowmobile to save his and a friend's life during a dangerous blizzard. Unser's ordeal began in December 1996 when he and a friend went snowmobiling in the Rio Grande National Forest, an area where snowmobiling is permitted. Without notice, a terrible blizzard moved in and the two men quickly got lost in the 60- to 70-mile per-hour winds. After a few hours, both snowmobiles broke down. With darkness falling and the temperature dropping, Unser and his friend knew they needed to find shelter. The two dug a snow cave where they slept for the night. The next day, the men walked 18 hours before finally getting help. Both Unser and his friend had to be hospitalized for exposure. Incredibly, the Forest Service served Unser a citation soon after he left the hospital, alleging that Unser had taken his snowmobile into a wilderness area, where such equipment is prohibited. What Unser finds most galling is that not only was the Forest Service oblivious to the fact that he was lost and trying to save his life, but that the agency doesn't even have proof he entered the wilderness area. Unser himself doesn't know if he did or did not. Unser's snowmobile was never recovered, leaving no evidence where he was that night. He is currently fighting the fine in court.

Source: Bobby Unser

Posthaste Facts on the Environment #27, August, 1998 by The Environmental Policy Task Force of the National Center for Public Policy Research, E-Mail

Three-time Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser has been threatened with a $5,000 fine by the U.S. Forest Service because he might have inadvertently crossed into a National Wilderness area while attempting to save his life. For more information on this story and other stories from the National Directory of Environmental and Regulatory Victims, call (202) 37101400 or

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