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Old 07-15-2014, 05:12 PM
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Default 10th Mtn Huts | Call to action

Received an email related to winter motorized travel. The USFS is taking comment on how to regulate snowmobiles. This came from the 10th Mt Division hut people but they are aligning with the Colorado Mountain Club.

Snowmobiles (and trucks during the summer) are currently required to be some distance of the huts, which varies but is generally 1/4 to 1/2 mile radius. Where the huts are located in non-Wilderness land snowmobiles can approach up to the no-vehicle zone. They want to see the rules changed to favor non-motorized access in general even though the huts already have that special zone. Sounds like to me they don't want to see tracks or hear them at all at the hut or during the trip in, which might be going too far.

I don't know if anyone here rides snowmobiles but thought you might like to know what's up. I generally look at snowmobiles as similar to ATVs, seem to attract a disproportionate number of yahoos who are inconsiderate of other users. So to some extent they bring upon the scorn themselves. But they also represent all motorized users whether we like it or not so it's something worth potentially supporting because with each change in status or rule motorized access erodes slightly more. I've to admit to taking a ride part of the way up to Polar Star once, so I'm also no angel either...

Quote:
10th Mountain Division Hut Association

SUMMER UPDATE | 2014

New "Over-Snow Vehicles"
(a.k.a. Snowmobiles) Rule

YOUR COMMENTS ARE NEEDED NOW!

DO YOU PREFER a human-powered, non-motorized winter experience in the backcountry? Most hut visitors do and this is why 10th Mountain and others have worked diligently to help preserve and improve this type of experience.

Consequently, conditions have improved at many of the huts, particularly those located on the White River National Forest because it was one of the first to implement a winter travel management plan that effectively addressed "over-snow vehicles" (a.k.a. "snowmobiles").

The US Forest Service is now gathering public input on a proposed rule requiring forests across the country (those that have snow) to develop and implement winter travel management plans.

This is a great step in the right direction and the US Forest Service is to be commended. Regrettably, the draft rule (issued June 18, 2014) misses the mark on several issues and your direct involvement is needed to improve it.

ISSUE #1

1 | The draft rule allows the US Forest Service to maintain an
"Open unless Designated Closed" approach for snowmobiles which is the status quo on many forests. Instead, the rule should require a "Closed unless Designated Open" approach. This would be more effective because it would be consistent with summer rules (for off-road vehicle use) and easier for users to follow and the agency to enforce. This approach has worked well on the White River National Forest and is worth replicating.

ISSUES #2 and #3

The draft rule also gives the agency 2 huge loopholes:
2 | The US Forest Service can simply grandfather in old outdated winter decisions and avoid updated planning, and...

3 | They can leave huge swaths unregulated under the term "open areas" that can be larger than an entire Ranger District (upwards of a million acres in size).

These 2 loopholes can undermine the entire intent of the new rule.

10th Mountain is working closely with the Colorado Mountain Club's Backcountry Snowsports Initiative (BSI) and Winter Wildlands Alliance, the nation's leading voice for human-powered winter recreation, but we need YOU to personally weigh in.

Together these groups have provided everything you need to comment and ensure human-powered users in Colorado and around the country are represented.

You can find all the information you need online at: www.cmc.org/bsi

This is a rare opportunity to help shape Forest Service policy. But we don't have a lot of time-comments need to be submitted before August 4, 2014-it's critical that the Forest Service hear from the ski, snowboard, snowshoe and mountaineering communities.

A strong rule today means balanced management of winter recreation tomorrow. Please take 10 minutes to weigh-in on this once-in-a-generation opportunity to impact how the backcountry is managed.

Thank you,

Ben Dodge | EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
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Old 07-15-2014, 11:16 PM
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This is a tough one for me...I sure used to love heading up to the huts in peace and quiet in the winter. When the snow is deep, you just don't hear much of anything and it is soooo peaceful. The only times I didn't enjoy my trip was when snow machines came whiz zing by and I about choked on their two-stroke madness! But I definitely see both sides and I'm rarely for closing access to anything...count me as a zero sum vote
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Old 07-16-2014, 06:34 AM
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Don't get me wrong, I would rather not see any motorized vehicles anytime I'm hiking or biking. Unless we're willing to ban them completely I don't think it's consistent to pick and choose. It is appropriate to limit how close they can approach the huts. If a person doesn't want to put in the work to walk 500 yards from their machine to the hut, well, sorry. However this is a backdoor method to a wider ban on them, it's dishonest.
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Old 07-16-2014, 07:52 AM
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Agree, Dave. All of us outdoor enthusiasts enjoy our "quiet times" as well as our wheeling. It's a great chance to think about our next wheeling adventure and how we might behave when we come across people who were hoping for their "quiet time".
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Old 07-16-2014, 09:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveInDenver View Post
However this is a backdoor method to a wider ban on them, it's dishonest.
I believe the same. FWIW I also enjoy the peace and quiet of the backcountry which to date has been easily attainable in the winter. It'd suck if snowmobiles ended up with MVUM's for winter.
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Old 07-16-2014, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rover67 View Post
I believe the same. FWIW I also enjoy the peace and quiet of the backcountry which to date has been easily attainable in the winter. It'd suck if snowmobiles ended up with MVUM's for winter.
This was the essence of my comments. Using the same travel plans as vehicles does not make sense because the MVUM is designed to keep vehicles on established roads and jeep trails in an effort to regulate impact to environments that might take decades to recover from damage.

Every year snow is renewed so the common traits are noise and practical access (e.g. parking their rigs). If the CMC and 10th Mt Huts want to see snowmobiles restricted to the established lanes where roads exist 6 feet under the snow, then say that. One could argue that making an arbitrary restriction like this might make things worse since snow drifting and topography doesn't necessarily mean the road underneath is optimal for winter travel. We see that every spring trying to bust open trails.

I think their next step would be then to say that doing that still impacts negatively the 'backcountry experience', so excluding them completely is necessary. That would then come back to setting a precedent that would I believe be used to limit summer motorized users for the same subjective reasons.
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Old 07-16-2014, 11:49 AM
J Kimmel J Kimmel is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveInDenver View Post
. If a person doesn't want to put in the work to walk 500 yards from their machine to the hut, well, sorry.
I'm not picking on you Dave, but this assumes a person is able.

I really like my peace and quiet too. It's irritating when there's an endless string of atvs or snowmobiles, but there's lots of places to go where they can't go.

I totally agree with you that it's dishonest.
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Old 07-19-2014, 07:34 AM
SteveH SteveH is offline
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Thanks for posting this.

Given my posting about the Rampart Range wilderness designation, I simply don't trust that the CMC doesn't want to eliminate access (in all ways except hiking) to national forests, statewide.

I just submitted my pro-leave-it-as-it-is comment, using the info provided in the 10th Mtn. Div. information.
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