Steamboat Springs The Routt Winter Task Force unveiled its proposal of a non-motorized area on Buffalo Pass, at an open house Tuesday night where written public comment was collected.
The proposed non-motorized area is just north of Dry Lake Campground, extending approximately 2 miles east, towards Soda Mountain, and approximately 1 north. Most of "Dads Road," which is what a trail leading north from Dry Lake is commonly referred to, wraps around the east end of the boundary, staying in the motorized zone.
Backcountry skier Jim Linville said the area is a logical choice. It has seen an increase of snowshoers and skiers over the last few years. It also is shielded by a ridge, directly north of Dry Lake, that will help deflect motorized noise, he said.
"It is going to be a point of contention," Linville admitted.
He explained that some snowmobilers use the area to begin a climb up Soda Mountain.
"I think this represents a compromise," recreational planner for the Forest Service Ed Patalik said. "I'm hoping that the various users can get along to make this work."
Patalik represents the U.S. Forest Service in the Winter Task Force, acting as a facilitator.
"I realized I gave up a little something, but I'm happy," Josh Freeman said. Freeman is a hybrid user of the backcountry meaning he uses snowmobiles to access terrain to ski or snowboard..
Freeman said he used a portion of the proposed non-motorized area to shuttle to the top of Soda Mountain.
"This has been an intense, terrible year for me," Freeman said.
Since the group began working on Buffalo Pass, Freeman said the tension in the area has been high. Plus, he said motorized users crossing the boundary lines on Rabbit Ears adds to the tension in the backcountry.
"There is a better chance that this will work (on Buffalo Pass)," Freeman said.
Buffalo Pass is considered more of a local spot, as compared to Rabbit Ears, he said, and the task force has determined that most of the motorized users crossing lines on Rabbit Ears are from the Front Range.
Bob Mayfield, of the Routt Powder Riders snowmobile club, said he visited snowmobile clubs in Denver to try to educate them of the rules on the Routt National Forest.
However, he said there always will be a few people who ignore the rules, which could have serious consequences.
"We need to start telling them that they are going to kill us. Their disrespect is going to cause more restrictions," Mayfield said.
He explained that 95 percent of backcountry users get along. It's the five percent that don't and set a bad example.
In Mayfield's opinion, the area proposed on Buffalo Pass is a "good deal. It's not a cop out on either side."
Not many snowmobilers use the area, and the ones that do shouldn't have a problem finding good terrain, nearby, he said.