Donald Martinusen: Snowmobilers must follow rules


In your editorial of March 1, you suggested that the Forest Service be patient with snowmobilers as they learn new rules prohibiting snowmobile access to certain limited areas of Rabbit Ears Pass and Buffalo Pass.

At Rabbit Ears, boundary signs dividing the motorized and mixed-use areas have been posted for some years (until recently on a voluntary basis). Thus, it would seem that frequent snowmobile visitors to the area would be familiar with the fact of a boundary and its approximate location. Backcountry users must be practiced in map-reading to avoid natural obstacles and, especially in bad weather, to know their locations. Snowmobilers, if so inclined, can surely identify approximately on the ground a boundary shown on a map.

Despite the Forest Service's efforts, there continue to be snowmobile incursions onto the non-motorized areas. On March 8, while skiing on the north side of U.S. Highway 40, I came across snowmobile tracks entering the non-motorized area directly past a clear boundary sign and tracking a sizeable segment of the non-motorized area where I frequently ski. At one point, the snowmobiles were adjacent to the westernmost point of the Fox Curve Loop 2B, about 1 1/2 miles west of the boundary.

I suspect the Forest Service needs to be more aggressive in implementing the "new rules" rather than more lenient.

I agree that the Winter Recreation Management Plan, of which the boundaries are a part, is an important effort, a compromise following much acrimony and effort. The effort appears promising, but it is essential that the Forest Service continue to invest resources in user-education, signage and, importantly, enforcement.


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