A truce? U.S. Forest Service works to bring together snowmobilers, skiers in Alpine County Plan
June 7, 2007
The U.S. Forest Service may have brokered a peace treaty between snowmobilers and cross country skiers with its recreation plan for Alpine County.
The plan, released last month and now in the midst of a public comment period, calls for seasonal restrictions on Forestdale Creek Road, improved access to Monitor pass for motorized winter recreation, the development of parking areas for motorized and non-motored recreation and a groomed route between Bear Valley and Markleeville.
“We have had a consultant conducting collaborative meetings with both groups trying to find common ground for winter recreation for Alpine County,” said Gary Schiff, district ranger for Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. “This proposed action reflects the best thinking of that group after a half dozen meetings over the past year.”
The group was formed to help ease long-standing disputes throughout the county, but especially in the Carson Pass area.
“This goes back to a 1992 travel management plan issued by a prior district ranger,” Schiff said. “This has been contested in court, particularly in the Forestdale area, since then.”
Under the new plan, Forestdale Creek Road would be closed to snowmobiles when sufficient snow is available at the Blue Lakes Sno-park. Motorized access to the road would still be permitted during the early and late winter months.
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“From the very start we said listen, this is a give-and-take situation,” said Pliny Olivier, member of Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Association. “We are not willing to give concessions and close certain areas unless the positives are there.”
Although very supportive of the plan he considered a compromise, Olivier wanted the forest service to ensure motorized recreation doesn’t suffer while the various parts of the plan are implemented.
Those who attended the group meeting in favor of non-motorized recreation also seemed in favor of the forest service plan.
“It is something we all worked on and all agreed on. I think it should be supported,” said Debbi Waldear, president of Friends of Hope Valley. “Hopefully it will reduce the conflict out there, not just on Forestdale, but other places too.”
Public comments will be accepted by the forest service until June 30, with an environmental assessment of the project to follow.
Schiff expected a decision on the proposed actions to be reached sometime in July.
More information on the project can be found at http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/htnf/.