Four snowmobilers were cited for riding in the Mokelumne Wilderness on the Carson Ranger District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe Forest.
Three riders were cited on Jan. 21 and one was cited on Jan. 22. All four riders were issued citations, which can result in a fine of up to $5,000, imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.
"This citation is not one to be taken lightly - the minimum fine is $425," said Carson Ranger District Recreation Staff Officer Dan Morris. "Use of snowmobiles and other mechanized equipment is illegal in designated wilderness."
The Wilderness area is located in Alpine County, west of Markleeville. The snowmobilers entered from Hope Valley (Blue Lakes) Sno-park off Highway 88. There are a wide variety of open snowmobiling opportunities accessed from the Sno-park. The wilderness area is posted as closed to motorized use and maps are readily available. Officers patrol this area daily, and while on patrol, they observed the snowmobilers entering the Wilderness area directly next to the closure signs.
"Wilderness areas were designated by Congress to ensure that all land was not developed; as our land is increasingly populated, wilderness becomes more valuable because it contrasts with the highly developed world in which we live," Morris said. "It is the intent of Congress that we preserve and protect wilderness areas in their natural condition."
Understanding which areas are open and closed to snowmobiling is an essential part of planning a snowmobile outing near designated Wilderness areas. Maps are located at the Hope Valley Sno-park, beginning of Burnside Lake road, and Forestdale Road that clearly explain winter recreation opportunities in the area. Free maps are also available at the Carson Ranger District office and on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest website.