Forest Service Plan Allows For More Snowmobiles

Industry News, News By Elizabeth Stewart-Severy, Aspen Public Radio
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The U.S. Forest Service released a draft decision to reissue a permit for Western Adventures to lead guided snowmobile tours on public land outside of Lenado.

The permit, which is valid for the next 10 years, allows for up to 2,500 snowmobile visits to the backcountry each year. This doubles the operation, which had previously been allotted 1,100 so-called service days.

Erin Carey with the Forest Service said this amounts to an increase of seven or eight people per day and this will not have a significant environmental impact.

“It wouldn’t be any net increase to the trails that are being groomed or the amount of traffic out there,” Carey said.  “It would just be a slight increase in users that are participating in the snowmobile tours.”

Western Adventures snowmobiling put the brakes on operations last winter while the Forest Service worked on an environmental assessment, which was completed earlier this summer.  There were nearly 100 comments from the public during this process, many of which centered on traffic and parking concerns in Lenado. 

Company owner Howard Vagneur said he’ll be relieved when the process is complete and he can continue with tours.

There is a 45-day objection period before the decision is finalized.

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