Letters to the editor Dec. 29, 2002

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Some snowmobilers never happy

The continuing controversy regarding backcountry user conflict in the Routt National Forest is coming to a head. Simply put, there is no way backcountry skiers can enjoy their sport in the manner they would like if they have to share all of their use areas with snowmobilers. The vast majority of acreage in the forest is available for use to the snowmobilers, and yet they complain whenever there is a plan to restrict any areas to them.

An article in the Nov. 21 Steamboat Today points out that many snowmobilers are even blatantly using wilderness areas to recreate, a clear violation of federal law. This seems to demonstrate they do not have any respect for any other users of the forest, much less the wildlife and vegetation that their actions are disturbing. Backcountry skiers have been pushed out of many of the places they previously enjoyed.

When a group of snowmobilers passes through a backcountry meadow, it is left unfit for anyone else to use. The various snowmobile clubs have volunteered to educate their members about voluntary restrictions in various areas of the forest, but a number of snowmobilers routinely ignore these efforts at cooperation. Their attitude seems to be "if we can get there, we have a right to be there."

Because of this, there really is no other choice but to separate the snowmobilers from the other backcountry users. The modest proposal to create a buffer zone around the Steamboat Ski Area represents about the last chance to give skiers a place where they can go and enjoy the peace and quiet of the outdoors. It is an area that until recently attracted very few snowmobilers due primarily to limits on machine technology and distance from various trailheads that snowmobilers used to access the forest.

Newer, more powerful snow machines have given this group the ability to reach these areas, so by their logic, they should be allowed unrestricted access.

There have been a number of instances where individual snowmobilers have buzzed and harassed skiers in this area, perhaps just to show that they could.

We need this buffer zone to give backcountry skiers and showshoers a chance to enjoy their sport. There are plenty of other places snowmobilers can go and enjoy their sport as well. Their complaint about this buffer zone is completely without merit.

Anyone who feels that this is true should contact Kim Vogel at the Hahn's Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District office in Steamboat Springs and tell her they support her decision.

Ben Tiffany

Steamboat Springs

Check the facts on Howelsen races

City Councilwoman Arianthe Stettner needs to do a bit more research on Howelsen Hill's "90-plus years of history." Or maybe she could just stop by and chat with my husband, Terry, or his brother Gary about some of the not-so-long-ago motorized sports events that have taken place at Howelsen Hill.

Seems that several of them were not "all human powered, all non-fossil fuels, all very, very quiet, except for the squeals of delight."

Her concerns regarding the event were reasonable (and addressed), but her reasoning for voting against the event is flawed.

Diana Eubank

Steamboat Springs

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