It’s Time To Rally For Snowmobiling On National Forest Lands

Comments needed on proposed FS rule on travel management by over-snow vehicles

News By Ric Foster, Public Lands Department Manager, BlueRibbon Coalition

Snowmobiling needs our help. On June 18, the U.S. Forest Service released a Proposed Rule that would govern Over-Snow Vehicle use on the National Forest Service lands. The Winter Wildlands Alliance successfully sued the Forest Service, alleging their failure to manage snowmobiles. This resulted in the Proposed Rule. The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), working with other snowmobile groups that have been a part of the Winter Wildlands litigation, has created the talking points listed below:

Suggested comments and talking points include:

  • We support this Proposed Rule as a fair and reasonable implementation of the Idaho district court's judgment because it allows flexibility for the local official.
  • Allowing flexibility to the local decision maker is crucial due to the extreme local differences across the snowbelt, while still protecting the resources.
  • The Proposed Rule recognizes that OSVs are very different from other types of motor vehicles. Snowmobiles travel on the snow rather than directly on the ground and have different environmental impacts.
  • We believe snowmobiles should be managed under Subpart C of the Travel Management Rule as proposed.
  • We believe that prior administrative OSV travel management decisions that have been made with proper authorities and public involvement should be carried forward.
  • We are supportive of the newly created "area" definition specifically for the designation of over-snow vehicle use. 
  • Be sure to remind them that snowmobiles and other OSVs are currently managed by the Forest Service, and that we do not have access to all Forest Service lands.
  • Also remind them that snowmobile trails provide many recreational opportunities, not just snowmobilers. 
  • You may also want to mention that snowmobiling is generally limited to only a fraction of the forest, while backcountry skiers and snowshoers generally have access to the entire forest. This gives the non-motorized groups “access to it all” and discriminates against the snowmobilers.
  • Remind them that you ride. If you ride in more than one forest or more than one state, let them know. Do you take your family along? 
  • Be sure to thank them for the opportunity to comment in support of this rule. 

Using these talking points, please write a personal letter to the Forest Service at the address below. We need individual letters, not form letters.

Please mail comment letters by Aug. 4, 2014 to:
          U.S.D.A Forest Service,
          Attn: Joseph Adamson
          1400 Independence Avenue, SW,
          Mail Stop 1125, Washington, DC 20250-1125
          Re:  RIN 0596-AD17/Use by Over-Snow Vehicles

BlueRibbon will be filing comments with the Forest Service on this significant proposed rule.

For additional information on the official release see Use by Over-Snow Vehicles (Travel Management Rule) in the Federal Register.

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