The Flathead National Forest is beginning the process of bringing its travel plan into alignment with the overall 2018 forest plan . . .
The Flathead National Forest has released a two-pronged proposed action that looks to update where snowmobiles and other over the snow motorized vehicles can run in the future, as well as mechanized uses like bicycles and game carts.
The changes come under the 2018 Forest plan, as it has about 190,400 acres of recommended wilderness. Under the plan, some trails could be closed that were once open to mechanical uses like bicycles, because the trails are now in recommended wilderness.
The bulk of those trails — about 82 miles, are in the Tuchuk-Whale Creek areas of the North Fork.
“Specifically, within the 190,403 acres of recommended wilderness areas, about 96 miles of trail currently allow mechanized transport and about 383 acres currently allow over-snow motorized use. There are no open motorized trails or roads or designated over-snow motorized travel routes in these recommended wilderness areas,” the proposed action notes.
Illegal snowmobile use disturbs wildlife, including lynx and wolverine. Grizzly bear tracks are seen year-round up the North Fork, but they regularly come out of their dens in April, long before the snow melts.
The proposed new Forest Service snowmobile regulations are pretty much the same as the current set . . .
Snowmobile access decisions on U.S. Forest Service land would remain at the local level, under a new travel rule the agency published on Wednesday.
That’s a relief for snowmobile clubs that worried their ability to use some areas might be moved to regional or national levels. But the conservation group whose lawsuit forced the Forest Service rewrite said the new rule didn’t fix any of the old problems.
Here we go again. The U.S. Forest Service is writing new snowmobile guidelines . . .
New draft guidelines for snowmobile management in the National Forest System will be released [this] week, but advance details remain scarce.
The U.S. Forest Service announced it will publish its “over-snow vehicle travel management rule” in the Federal Register on Wednesday. That starts a 45-day public comment period. The Forest Service plans to release the final rule by Sept. 9.
“We’ve been asking for input or anything else, but we’ve been completely locked out of the negotiations,” said Kurt Friede, owner of Kurt’s Polaris in Seeley Lake and a member of several snowmobile advocacy groups. “How can we find out if it’s good for us or bad for us, when we haven’t been allowed to have any input on it? It creates a lot of irritation.”
Larry expands on his previous comments about the importance of proper search and rescue snowmobile training, even in areas normally closed to motorized transport . . .
Most of the North Fork, north of Canyon Creek, is now closed to snowmobilers. There are some exceptions, where unplowed roads are open.
I stand by my statement that search and rescue training has been limited by the closures. SAR training requires space so that actual missions have operators experienced in backcountry snow conditions. You can not adequately train on groomed trails or even on unplowed roads. Very often, backcountry missions involve heavy powder, steep hillsides and running through trees. Extreme skill is important, but so is being familiar with the area.