Winter Travel Management on the Plumas National Forest
The Plumas National Forest is looking for input from the public on which routes and areas they should designate for snowmobile use. This information will help to inform the Forest Service’s analysis of a new winter travel management plan for the Plumas. As an initial step in the winter travel planning process, the Forest Service has developed a “proposed action” which serves as a starting point for future discussion. You can review the proposed action and other documents associated with this project on the Plumas National Forest website.
You have until November 30 to comment on the scope of the analysis and the proposed action.
After November 30, 2015 the Forest Service will analyze the impacts of the proposed action, develop a number of alternate management plans (“Alternatives”), and analyze the impacts of these Alternatives. The next opportunity for public comment will likely be February 2017, when the forest releases a Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which will describe all of the Alternatives and their impacts.
We are concerned that the Forest Service is proposing to allow snowmobiles across 96% of the Plumas National Forest. The Forest Service needs to be more specific in determining which areas are open to snowmobiles. For example, we don’t think the Forest Service should be spending time and resources analyzing where to allow snowmobiles in areas below 5,000 feet. On the Plumas these low elevation areas don’t get enough snow to warrant being open to snowmobiles and we believe the Forest Service should focus their efforts on managing winter recreation in places where it actually snows. On the bright side, we are pleased to see that the Forest Service is proposing to manage two important backcountry skiing areas as non-motorized – an area on the east side of Bucks Lake Wilderness and terrain on the west side of the Lakes Basin, adjoining Plumas-Eureka State Park. However, the Forest Service should, and can, do more to craft a balanced winter travel plan. We believe they should also manage Thompson Peak, the east side of Lake Davis and the Frazier Creek area, northeast of Gold Lake, for non-motorized recreation.
Your comments at this stage in the process will help to shape the Alternatives that the Forest Service develops and, ultimately, the final plan. You can provide site-specific comments using the Forest Service’s online mapping tool by clicking here or you can submit written comments using this online form. Either way, your comments should provide information to help the Forest Service understand which areas of the Plumas are important for non-motorized recreation and ask them to manage these areas for non-motorized use. We suggest supporting the non-motorized closures that the Forest Service has identified in their Proposed Action and asking that the the travel plan include additional non-motorized areas near Lake Davis and Gold Lake as well. You could also point out that there is rarely enough snow below 5,000 feet to support winter recreation and that the Forest Service should prioritize it’s resources and not include low-elevation areas when considering where to allow snowmobiles.
To learn more about winter travel management you can can visit our Winter Travel Planning page. If you have additional questions please contact the Winter Wildlands Alliance Recreation Planning Coordinator, Hilary Eisen, at firstname.lastname@example.org.