Minden man fined $500 for sledding into restricted area
Aggressive enforcement in some areas next year
By Gregory Crofton
Tribune staff writer
He stopped and read the “do not enter” sign and then decided to motor into the protected wilderness area on a snowmobile anyway.
A U.S. Forest Service protection officer ticketed Gert Von Marschner of Minden after the officer witnessed him read the sign and then violate the law.
The sign was posted to keep motorized vehicles or equipment out of the Mokelumne Wilderness, which is just south of Hope Valley Snow Park, a popular place for South Shore residents and others to snowmobile in Alpine County.
Marschner, who speaks and can read English, according to the ticketing officer, was caught riding out of bounds on Jan. 31. He was found guilty and fined $500 by Federal Magistrate Craig Kellison in the El Dorado County Courthouse at South Lake Tahoe at the end of last month.
Marschner could not be contacted for comment on Monday – his phone number is not listed.
“It is the only conviction that I know this winter,” said Franklin Pemberton, public affairs specialist for the Carson Ranger District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. “I think the message here is that these sleds, their intrusion, is becoming more frequent. More snowmobiles are being sold and more folks are going out to these areas.”
With out-of-bounds riding on the rise, Pemberton said the Forest Service in recent years has increased its efforts to educate the public about laws designed to protect sensitive wilderness areas. But next season riders should expect less public outreach and a more aggressive enforcement of the law.
“We’ve been trying to get the message out and not be heavy-handed about this,” Pemberton said. “Next year there will be full enforcement; less of an ‘Oh, I didn’t know’ kind of thing and more ticket writing.”
Pemberton said the majority of snowmobilers are law abiding and often help with patrol in areas that attract riders looking to go out of bounds.
The Forest Service and other agencies charged with law enforcement are also getting more help from the state government. Two years ago the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Commission began to provide more money to fund law enforcement.
The commission is charged with allocating about $60 million a year in taxes and OHV sticker fees to agencies throughout the state like the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and county sheriff offices. Of the agencies:
n The Carson Ranger District was granted $40,000 to perform law enforcement in the Tahoe Meadows and Hope Valley.
n Alpine County Sheriff’s Department received $25,000 to monitor some areas of Hope Valley.
n The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit received $40,000 to step up enforcement of areas off-limits to snowmobilers such as Desolation Wilderness, Freel Peak and Meiss Meadows.
– Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org