STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo.) January 3, 2020 – Citations were issued to snowmobilers last weekend for the reoccurring issue of snowmobiling in wilderness and in non-motorized areas on the Routt National Forest. The violations have prompted the all-too-familiar messages from local U.S. Forest Service staff reminding winter recreation users on the National Forest that they are responsible to always know where they are and what regulations are in place.
U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement found seven people snowmobiling in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness this past Sun., Dec. 29, 2019 and two others were wrongfully snowmobiling in the non-motorized area by Walton Peak on Sat., Dec. 28, 2019. Citations were issued to all parties which varied in amount, topping out over $500 for the wilderness offenders. Several of the people cited for trespass rode right by signage stating that wilderness is off limits to snowmobiles.
The non-motorized area around Walton Peak is on Rabbit Ears Pass, near Steamboat Springs, Colo.
“Addressing this issue continues to be a priority for our staff and we will work with our partners to seek change,” said Tara Umphries, Ranger for the Hahns Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District. “A big thank you to local clubs and businesses for their help and support in sharing accurate information. The effort they make is noticed and appreciated. The District will keep engaging with partners to improve education about winter recreation in the Steamboat area.”
Wilderness areas are congressionally designated areas set aside to minimize impact from human activity. As such, motorized vehicles are permanently prohibited from operating in wilderness areas.
Some of the wilderness area is marked, but it is ultimately up to the individuals to know where they are in reference to restricted or prohibited areas. In addition to the wilderness restrictions, additional regulations are in place in the area.
Specific regulations related to the area include:
- Operating any motorized equipment, including snowmobiles, is illegal in all wilderness areas.
- The west side of Buffalo Pass has a Winter Backcountry Permit Area, in which a permit is required for all uses.
- Separate areas for non-motorized and motorized use exist at Rabbit Ears Pass.
- Mandatory and voluntary closures exist throughout the area, please ensure you have the most up-to-date information before heading out.
- Trail maps are available at local outlets, with groomed routes and restricted areas clearly marked.
- Report others who disregard boundaries and take their machines into closed areas. All snowmobilers should not be defined by the actions of a few.
Throughout the Routt National Forest, there are hundreds of miles of trails and thousands of acres of land that are available for motorized, winter recreation. Forest Service officials will continue to enlist the help of locals to remind and inform visitors from out-of-state of acceptable use in the Forest.
All violations have ramifications; however, many Forest users don’t realize that penalties include fines, and in some severe cases possible jail time and equipment forfeiture.
For additional information on winter recreation in the Routt National Forest, please call or visit a ranger district listed below:
Hahns Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District
925 Weiss Dr., Steamboat Springs, Colo. 80487
Parks Ranger District
100 Main St., Walden, Colo. 80480
Yampa Ranger District
300 Roselawn Ave., Yampa, Colo. 80483
For more information, please visit our website at https://fs.usda.gov/mbr, or follow us on Twitter, @FS_MBRTB.
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