Monday, March 12, 2012

Backcountry users clash over use

Backcountry users on foot or ski/board love the peace and quiet of the mountains, while snowmobilers love the thrill and exhilaration of fossil fuel speed.  It is hard for both groups to coexist. Feelings run high in both camps.

The U.S. Forest Service is getting some ideas to help both groups, while protecting both of their interests.  Possible interventions by the Forest Service include increased public education, improved mapping and changes in the way backcountry Rangers deal with the public.
Organizations such as Snowlands Network are vocal in protecting the backcountry for human-powered winter sports.  The California-Nevada Snowmobile Association is of course pushing for continued use of snowmobiles on U.S. Forest Service land.

Snowmobilers may indeed need better mapping and GPS units.  9 snowmobilers were recently cited for riding in closed areas.  5 were caught riding in the Mokelumne Wilderness and 4 were cited for riding in the Freel Peak-High Meadows area near Tahoe. 
Before you go in the backcountry, check with the SierraAvalanche Center to see what the avalanche warning may be.  On March 12, 2012 the warning was “Moderate”, due to deep slab instability on slopes over 35 degrees.  All other areas are “Low”.

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