Friday, October 27, 2006

1% for the Backcountry Skiers - Response Needed ASAP!

1% for the Backcountry Skiers and Nordic United encourage you to take a couple of minutes to write a letter to the Forest Service in support of leaving in place the 2003 decision that mandated a small percentage (1%) of the Wasatch-Cache Forest non-motorized winter use. (check out the PDF map of the area)

Is this too much to ask of snowmobilers? Apparently not. They have enlisted Representative Rob Bishop and Undersecretary of Agriculture David Tenney (whose record in this sort of thing is not a shining star by any means) to help in reversing the decision that left a small area of the forest for quite winter recreation - perfect for backcountry skiers/snowshoers and ideal for wildlife.

Letters are DUE BY OCTOBER 30th! I sent my letter via e-mail as a word document - which took about 5 minutes.

Please take the time to help preserve non-motorized winter recreation in Logan Canyon.(Northern Utah). For more information, sample letters and talking points and the e-mail address to send your letter please visit Nordic United's website

You can read the Enviornmental Assesment from the Forest Service, just scroll down from the link to Tony Grove - Franklin Basin


A little history leading to the current issue

The Bear River Range in Northern Utah has been over-run by snowmobiles. The Forest Service spent 5 years conducting analysis and gathering input and in its 2003 revised Forest plan, designated a small area (9,500 acres) for winter non-motorized use. This area is perfect for skiers and snowshoers because it is accessible to trailheads, has a large variety of terrain, and much of it has low avalanche danger. There are also two yurts in the area (since the mid 80's). The Franklin Basin area has been a traditional non-motorized area. Note: this designated area represents about 1% of the 580,000 acres currently open for motorized use the Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

In 2003, the Forest Plan was signed into law by Forest Chief Dale Bosworth. Unfortunately, a few of the local snowmobilers enlisted the help of congressman Rob Bishop, who in turn contacted Undersecretary of Agriculture David Tenney. Tenney then commented on this small closure and recommended that the Forest Service reconsider this closure. It is hard to fathom why someone dealing with national issues would concern themselves with the fate of a tiny section in the entire Forest Service plan for the entire Wasatch-Cache National Forest, which covers millions of acres!

The Forest Service is now proposing to re-open a large portion of the designated closure area, giving the reason that snowmobilers need a way out of the bottom of a steep bowl in the event the weather changes or they cannot negotiate the climb back out. In the spirit of compromise, the non-motorized users agreed that "emergency egress" to allow a snowmobile to leave this area in the event of an emergency was appropriate. For the motorized users, however, this was not good enough and the groups pressured the Forest Service to re-open 55% of this area for snowmobile use. If the proposed action is implemented, the snowmobilers' original request of an emergency egress may ultimately result in the drastic reduction and fragmentation of the non-motorized areas.

If this proposal is implemented, all that will remain are two small islands surrounded by motorized areas. The proposal also includes a groomed snowmobile trail through the remaining closed area to facilitate a snowmobile shuttle between parking lots (wouldn't it be nice if the Forest Service would provide shuttle service for skiers and kayakers)!




Blogger *MILLY* said...

I think that is awesome that there is area preserved for solitude. I do love to go out and rally snowmobiles and stuff like that. But when I am out hiking in nature i do that to get away from the noise; the hustle and bustle of the world. It is so nice to feel like you are alone in the world, The nature around you looks as though you are alone, since there is no motorized damage. You can hike with out music because you do not need to drown out noise. If you run into people in this area, they share the same reasons for being out there. It is a world that is far and in between and growing smaller. That is why Utah is so amazing, you are just a short drive, bike ride or hike to get to that area that is so unlike the world you were in just under a hour ago!

10/27/2006 2:37 PM

Blogger Nordic United said...

Thanks for providing the information concerning the winter recreation issue in Logan Canyon. I have skied this area since the late 1970's and have watched the non-motorized recreationalist get squeezed out of areas such as Tony Grove and Franklin Basin.
I wrote a letter and encourage others to do so.
Nordic United is asking that Alternative #3 be implemented. This alternative leaves the boundaries and conditions from the Forest Service's 2003 Record of Decision intact.

Thanks again for the posting!!!,

10/28/2006 9:58 PM

Blogger c4hair said...

I appreciate Milly's comments as an occasional motorized user. It's important that people understand the unfairness of the way recreation is managed on our public lands in many cases. All to often non-motorized advocates get labeled as being anti-access for speaking up for quality non-motorized access and experiences. Skiers don't want to shut snowmobilers out of the forests, but we do demand fair management of our shared resources. The fact is that the extremely different uses are incompatible and for that reason "shared use" is an antiquated term when it comes to winter recreation. This Franklin Basin-Tony Grove issue is a great example of the disparity between motorized and non-motorized winter recreation opportunities and as Milly states, we need places to go where we can connect with our surroundings and ourselves free of noise and motorized impacts.

10/30/2006 1:28 PM

Anonymous Jocelyn said...

I agree that there should be protection of quiet, open space for recreation. We all need time to think and just "be." I just saw this post, otherwise I'd have written a letter as well.

I wish Utah well! Of course, election day is also a great way to make a difference. Vote anyone out of office who would vote for a bill to shrink non-motorized winter sports areas. That's my opinion!

I blog about group travel, and often write about green travel (noise pollution is one of the things to consider for skiers indeed). Thanks for your post/alert.


10/31/2006 3:31 PM

Blogger backcountry freak said...

c4hair - you hit the nail on the head. I myself am considering buying a snowmobile given that the closest area to backcountry ski near my home requires a 5-6 mile skin approach. Shutting down snowmobiles in all areas is not what this is about indeed.

All of you that have commented, thanks for joining the discussion

10/31/2006 4:25 PM


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