Snowlands Network Applauds Court Ruling Requiring U.S. Forest Service Management of Snowmobiles and Calls for the National Forests in California and Nevada to Take Action
NEVADA CITY, Calif – April, 2, 2013 - On March 29, the United States District Court for the District of Idaho ruled that the exemption of over-snow vehicles in the 2005 Travel Management Rule is contrary to law. In the ruling handed down Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald E. Bush ordered the U.S. Forest Service to issue a new rule within 180 days that requires all national forests to manage over-snow-vehicles under the same criteria used for all other off-road vehicles.
The ruling resolves a lawsuit brought by Boise-based Winter Wildlands Alliance challenging the legality of the over-snow vehicle (OSV) exemption in the 2005 Travel Management Rule. Advocates for the West represented Winter Wildlands Alliance in the lawsuit.
"This ruling will affect all National Forests and confirms the position we have advocated with the Forest Service in California and Nevada," said Gail Ferrell, Snowlands Network President. "Winter is not a 'secondary' season; the Forest Service needs to comprehensively address the adverse impacts of motorized recreation in winter as well as in summer."
"The popularity of backcountry skiing and snowshoeing is apparent to anyone traveling the Mt. Rose highway, or other roads in and around the Lake Tahoe basin, in winter," said Ms. Ferrell. "The preservation and promotion of opportunities to backcountry ski and snowshoe in the basin is extremely important to the economic health of communities in the basin."
"The Forest Service cannot continue to ignore the issues presented by snowmobile recreation when revising their land management plans and formulating travel management," said Bob Rowen, Snowlands Network Vice President for Advocacy. "We call on the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, which is revising its land management plan, to address the snowmobile issue. This does not mean a total prohibition of snowmobiles, but it means providing a fair balance of lands for non-motorized recreation in winter as well as in summer. The current lack of comprehensive regulation of OSV use has allowed motorized recreation to displace skiers and snowshoers from several areas in the basin, despite the fact that the demand for backcountry skiing and snowshoeing far exceeds the demand for snowmobiling."
Snowlands Network calls on the Inyo NF for winter travel management planning
Recently, Snowlands Network submitted comments to the Inyo National Forest in response to a proposed OSV staging area improvement project. The comments that we submitted, called for the Inyo NF to conduct winter travel management planning, protect lands for clean and quiet winter recreation, and take steps to limit the environmental degradation caused by OSV use.
Lake Tahoe Management Draft Plan Released
The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) of the Forest Service has released a draft version of a new Management Plan. The plan is intended to guide forest management for the next 10-20 years (the last plan was published 24 years ago.) Incredibly, the new plan does not address winter recreation.
Thanks to everyone who submitted comments by the Aug 30 deadline.
For more information about the planning process see here.
Join Snowlands Network in promoting human-powered winter recreation and protecting winter wildlands.
Snowlands Network is the only organization in California and Nevada dedicated to representing the needs of backcountry skiers, snowshoers, snowboarders and other outdoors people who value the physical and spiritual joys of winter and winter travel using their own muscle power. Our goal is to promote safety and solitude on every winter adventure.
The Winter 2012 Issue of
Snowlands Bulletin Is Here!
Download or view a PDF copy.
Rubicon Trail Deal
Will Protect Water Quality
Time to celebrate a victory!!!
Years of effort by Snowlands Network, other environmental organizations and concerned individuals culminated in an agreement between the Forest Service and diverse interests that will close the Rubicon (Off-Road) Trail at times to protect water quality and prevent erosion like this:
The agreement will also allow improvements to the Rubicon Trail to move forward.
Eight Appellants, including conservation and off-road organizations, as well as El Dorado County, dropped their appeals of a U.S. Forest Service Decision that grants the County an easement for the route of the historic Rubicon Trail and approvals for trail improvements. Changes to the Decision, negotiated and agreed to by the eight appellants, will require the County to close the Trail when weather conditions are likely to result in runoff of sediment and petroleum products.
"This agreement is a win for everyone", said Karen Schambach of Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation and California Field Director for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. "It allows the County to proceed with bridges and erosion control, and includes a winter closure that ensures those improvements will not be destroyed by irresponsible use."
"The trail improvements along with the agreed to procedures for needed closures will significantly increase protections to water resources and the many riparian and aquatic species that live depend on these waters, including the California red-legged frog and Sierra Nevada yellow legged frog." said Lisa Belenky, senior attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity.
Five conservation organizations jointly appealed the decision: Snowlands Network, Winter Wildlands Alliance, Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation, based in Georgetown where the Rubicon Trail originates, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Center for Biological Diversity. The primary concern for these groups had been the erosion and water quality issues that result from winter and early spring use of the trail, especially by so-called "extreme off-roaders." Currently the Trail is under a Regional Water Board Cleanup and Abatement Order, due to water quality issues such as sedimentation and petroleum products contamination.
"It took last minute efforts of all participants and a willingness to compromise on a plan that everyone can live with in order to make the settlement a reality, said Marcus Libkind, Chairman of Snowlands Network. "My only regret is that this same outcome was not worked out long ago."
A special thanks goes to Monte Hendricks, Snowlands' Highway 50 Coordinator, Rich Platt, retired Forest Service employee and Snowlands volunteer, and all of you who submitted comment letters over the years. >>> Background
SNOWMOBILE PLAN CHALLENGED
TO PROTECT WILDLIFE AND QUIET RECREATION
Snowlands Network, together with other petitioners, filed a lawsuit challenging the State of California's recent approval of its 10-year over snow vehicle grooming and trailhead plowing plan. The lawsuit, filed on January 19, 2011, claims that the plan did not adequately address impacts to wildlife, air or water quality, or conflicts with quiet winter recreation.
Click here for more information.