Winter in July?!

The Stanislaus National Forest recently started the process of writing a winter travel management plan.  The final plan will direct where snowmobiles are and are not allowed on the Forest and, as a result, determine which areas on the Stanislaus will provide opportunities for quiet recreation.  As part of the planning process the Forest Service recently released a Proposed Action and they are looking for your feedback.

The Stanislaus is hosting public meetings to discuss the Proposed Action and answer questions.  The meetings are from 6-8 PM in the following locations:

  • July 13, Perry Walther Community Building, 325 Creekside Drive, Bear Valley, CA 95223
  • July 14, Calaveras Ranger District Office at 5519 Highway 4, Hathaway Pines, CA 95233
  • July 21, Pinecrest Elementary School located at 30433, Old Strawberry Road in Pinecrest, CA 95375
  • July 22, Stanislaus National Forest Supervisors Office, 19777 Greenley Road, Sonora, CA  95370

If you can’t attend one of the meetings you can, and should, still submit written comments.  The Forest Service is collecting public comments through August 10 and you can also submit site-specific comments by using the their online mapping tool.

The Proposed Action would enforce snowmobile closures in many places that the Forest Plan dictates should be non-motorized year-round and they are limiting potential snowmobile activity to areas above 5,000 feet in elevation.  This is a good start, however, we think the Forest Service can, and must, do more.  For example, the Forest is proposing to amend the Forest Plan and reward years of illegal trespass by officially permitting snowmobiles in the Pacific Valley and Eagle/Night Near Natural Areas.  We believe the travel plan should strengthen, not weaken, protections for wild places on the Stanislaus.  When writing your comment letter we encourage you to incorporate the following general talking points along with your site-specific concerns and recommendations:

  •  The Stanislaus National Forest must consider motorized use within the context of the full spectrum of recreational activities that occur on the Forest and craft a travel plan that addresses conflicts between motorized and non-motorized uses and provides a quality recreational experience for all visitors.
  • The travel plan must uphold the motorized restrictions set forth in the Forest Plan.  Motorized use should be prohibited in all near-natural areas, recommended Wilderness, research natural areas, and special interest areas.
  • The travel plan should protect areas for non-motorized recreation, as identified in the comments and Alternative submitted by Winter Wildlands Alliance.

We are working on our comments and are working with our partners at Snowlands Network to write an Alternative for the Forest Service to consider.  Once our Alternative is completed we will post it online here.

Unless the places where you ski or ride are entirely within Wilderness there is no guarantee that they will remain non-motorized in the future unless they are designated as such in this new travel plan.  In order to protect the human-powered winter recreation opportunities that you value it’s critical that you get involved!

Questions?  Contact Hilary Eisen – heisen@winterwildlands.org or call her at (208) 629-1986