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Environment: Forest Service agrees to study snowmobile impacts on five national forests in California

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The U.S. Forest Service may finally address the environmental impacts of snowmobiles, at least in California, where the agency settled a lawsuit with a promise to do better studies.

Conservation groups say agency has been avoiding detailed studies by approving trail systems under streamlined categorical exclusion permitting process

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service may finally come to grips with the environmental impacts of snowmobiles under a new legal agreement that will require a full assessment of snowmobile impacts on wildlife, plants and quiet recreation in five California national forests — the Stanislaus, Eldorado, Tahoe, Plumas and Lassen.

The agreement settles a lawsuit that challenged the Forest Service’s practice of avoiding detailed environmental review on these national forests in the central and northern Sierra and southern Cascades. In many cases, the agency has used categorical exclusions to authorize snowmobile trail grooming without taking a hard look at impacts like federal environmental laws require. Continue reading

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Colorado: Winter trail changes for forest visitors

Many areas require motorized users to stay on designated routes

Winter travel management rules now in effect on White River National Forest.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — White River National Forest visitors may see new signage this winter, as various changes related to an updated travel management plan start to take effect this weekend

The forest is switching from wheeled travel on the open road system to over-the-snow vehicles (vehicles with a ski and/or tracks) on Nov. 23. Whether gates are open or closed, the roads are closed to wheeled vehicle travel as of Nov. 23. Continue reading

Colorado: Snowmobilers harassing moose, posting videos

CDOW targets snowmobile rental companies with awareness campaign

Moose near Berthoud Pass, Colorado.

A moose cow and her calves graze in thick willows near Berthoud Pass.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Some snowmobilers in Colorado are chasing and harassing moose in the backcountry and then posting videos on social video web sites, according to the Colorado Division of Wildlife, which is launching an awareness campaign aimed at curbing the practice.

The message is targeting snowmobilers and snowmobile rental companies on the West Slope. Wildlife officers will be contacting snowmobile rental companies and providing them with literature that can be distributed to customers.

Although it is unclear where some of the videos were shot, at least one of them was taken in Grand County. The footage shows an unidentified person on a snowmobile chasing a moose at a high rate of speed. The moose then stops and appears to charge the rider before running away.  Although no one was reported to have been injured in this incident, officials are concerned that behavior like this could lead to injuries or death of moose and snowmobilers. Continue reading

Snowmobiler busted for wilderness violation near Aspen

After recently issuing tickets to snowmobilers for violating wilderness rules, the U.S. Forest Service says riders are responsible for knowing which areas are open.

Know the rules before you go, rangers say; info available at forest web sites

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service continued a crackdown on renegade snowmobilers with a Feb. 28 bust in the Aspen area, where a ranger cited a Denver man for riding his machine in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area.

Rangers recently chased another group of snowmobilers in the Steamboat Springs backcountry and issued tickets.

The Aspen violation resulted in $500 fine and a processing fee of $25. Operating a motor vehicle in a designated wilderness area can result in a fine of up to $5,000 and/or six months in jail.

Forest Service rangers saw the violator riding his sled in a large meadow in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness area while on a patrol of the Wilderness boundary along Richmond Ridge off the back side of Aspen Mountain. In this particular area, the Wilderness boundary comes within 100 feet of County Road 123.  The boundary is signed in this area. Continue reading

Popular Vail Pass snowmobile trail closed temporarily

Snowmobilers and hybrid skiers looking for access to Ptarmigan Pass and Machine Gun Ridge off Vail Pass will have to use an alternate access route out of Camp Hale for at least the next few days. Due to thin snow cover, the Forest Service has closed the Wilder Gulch route to traffic to prevent further resource damage in the alpine drainage.

Forest Service hopes to re-open main access route to Ptarmigan Pass and Machine Gun Ridge in time for the weekend

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Limited snow in the high country has spurred the U.S. Forest Service to close a popular snowmobile trail at Vail Pass.

The Wilder Gulch winter road, providing access to Ptarmigan Pass and Machine Gun Ridge are temporarily closed as of Jan. 7 to prevent further resource damage in the area, the Forest Service said in a press release.


More information on the Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area, including maps, is online here.

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