Athlete, Adaptive Sports Program Director

Pacific Valley Near Natural Area, Stanislaus National Forest. Photo by Steve Evans, CalWild

 

Comment Deadline: October 9, 2018

Two important and sensitive roadless areas are currently at high risk of being designated open to motorized over-snow vehicle (OSV) use on the Stanislaus National Forest in California’s Sierra Nevada.

  1. The Pacific Valley, a beautiful 10,500 acre roadless area south of Highway 4 and surrounded by the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness. The area includes a portion of the headwaters of the Mokelumne River and the Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail. Pacific Creek is home to a population of threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout and has been found eligible for Wild and Scenic River Status. Pacific Valley provides important old growth forest habitat for the Pacific fisher and pine marten, and is home to a tiny — recently rediscovered — band of endangered Sierra Nevada red fox.
  2. The Eagle roadless area south of Highway 108 and north of the Emigrant Wilderness, which ranges from 6,300-9,700 feet in elevation and is a beautiful potential addition to the popular and often crowded Emigrant Wilderness just to the south. The area supports old growth forests and is also rich in Native American cultural values.

Both of these areas were designated Near Natural Areas in the 1991 Stanislaus National Forest Management Plan and confirmed by Forest Plan Direction in 2017 to be managed as wild, non-motorized areas:

Emphasis is placed on providing a natural appearing landscape in a non-motorized setting. Public motorized use is not normally allowed and no timber harvest is scheduled. Wildlife habitat management, watershed protection, dispersed non-motorized recreation, livestock grazing and minerals uses are allowed. The area is characterized by a high quality visual setting where changes are rarely evident… It meets the Forest Service criteria for the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum class of Semi-primitive Non-motorized.

Sierra Nevada Red Fox, NPS Photo

For years, the forest service has failed to implement non-motorized management in winter, and snowmobilers have taken advantage of the lack of enforcement. Now, in the final stages of winter recreation planning, the Stanislaus is proposing to ignore the Forest Plan and officially designate these areas for over-snow vehicle use.

If these areas are officially opened to snowmobile use, they will likely never be considered for wilderness protection again. Snowmobile use will continue to degrade the quiet winter recreation experience sought by cross country skiers and snowshoers. Most importantly, continued snowmobile traffic could be the death knell for the tiny remaining population of endangered Sierra Nevada red fox, which barely survives along the Sierra’s snow-covered highlands.

 

Comment Deadline is Tuesday October 9

The Stanislaus National Forest‘s draft winter travel plan attempts to establish a balance for winter management that allows for appropriate snowmobile routes and play areas, and also provides some limited protections for important non-motorized recreation zones, wildlife, and natural resources. Click here for a link to the high-res map (pdf) of the forest’s “preferred” Alternative 5.

However, the forest’s proposal, as written, fails to minimize user conflict and impacts to sensitive wildlife (including critically endangered Sierra Nevada red fox) in the following key areas:

  • Pacific Valley and Eagle/Night Near Natural Areas
  • The Herring Creek area immediately adjacent to the Leland Snowplay Area on Highway 108
  • Osborne Hill and other Nordic touring terrain to the immediate east and west of Lake Alpine
  • Areas between Cabbage Patch and Black Springs and Mattley Ridge off Highway 4
  • Route 7N02 in the Big Meadow Area for non-motorized touring to the Stanislaus Canyon overlook

Use the easy form below to submit specific, customizable comments in support of wildlife and human-powered recreation.

Adventure with the Winter Wildlands Alliance in our hometown for our first annual “Wild Weekend” Friday, Nov 2 – Saturday, Nov 3, 2018.

Join the Treasure Valley backcountry community as we dive deep into the heart and soul of the winter human-powered experience and raise funds supporting the Alliance’s advocacy and education efforts – both local and national.

4th Annual SnowBall: A Ski Bum Gala

Begin your Wild Weekend dancing the night away at the 4th Annual SnowBall: A Ski Bum Gala on Friday, Nov 2 at 7:00 PM at the Linen Building. Benefitting SnowSchool and our local site at Bogus Basin, this event promises delicious food, drinks, silent/live auction items, and live music provided by Jonathan Warren and the Billy Goats. Event page and tickets here.

14th Annual Backcountry Film Festival World Premiere

After you dance the night away with your fellow ski bums, join us the following evening, Saturday, Nov 3 for the 14th Annual Backcountry Film Festival World Premiere! Climate action, environmental preservation, natural resources, snow culture, and of course, POW SHOTS: you’ll find it all in the award-winning line-up. Films, drinks, raffle and auction prizes galore – this is the traditional event of the winter season you cannot miss! Pre-party at the North Face store in downtown Boise from 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM featuring local band, Red Light Challenge. Film Festival doors open at 6:00 PM and films start at 7:00 PM at the Egyptian Theatre. Event page and tickets here.

We can’t wait to see you there! Email info@winterwildlands.org with questions.