PHOTO BY MING POON

Boise-based Winter Wildlands Alliance is seeking a part-time Program Administrator to join our team! We are looking for a self-starting, highly motivated individual with strong organizational skills who is also passionate about human-powered winter snowsports. The Program Administrator will be responsible for managing our CRM database, membership fulfillment, office administration and providing general program support. If you’d enjoy working collaboratively with our dynamic team to help promote and protect winter wildlands then we would love to hear from you! See full job description here. To apply, send cover letter and resume to Mark Menlove, mmenlove@winterwildlands.org

Alaska’s Chugach State Park. Photo by Katie Strong

Have you heard about the 52-year-old conservation program that has strong bipartisan support and is one of the most effective tools we have to protect public lands and improve recreation access, yet somehow is teetering on the edge of a cliff?

If you’ve never heard of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) — or perhaps you have but you’re not totally sure what it is — you’re not alone. LWCF doesn’t draw a lot of headlines, except for times like now when we’re on the verge of losing it.

Congress created the LWCF in 1965, with the idea that we should use some of the revenue from offshore oil and gas drilling to protect areas from development and improve public access to public lands. Each year $900 million in off-shore drilling revenue goes into the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This money is available to federal, state, and local governments to purchase land, purchase easements across private land and water for public access, and to build and maintain recreation infrastructure.

Unfortunately, almost every year, Congress diverts much of this funding to other uses, leading to a substantial backlong in LWCF-eligible projects. Even so, LWCF has played a substantial role in protecting public lands and improving recreation opportunities across America for the past 5 decades.

Over the life of the program, LWCF has funded close-to-home recreation opportunities in all fifty states and every congressional district. From local swimming pools to state parks, river access sites and climbing crags to entirely new parcels of public land, LWCF has directed over $17 billion to public lands conservation and recreation since it was first enacted. Check out this Outdoor Alliance interactive map to learn more about the public lands and recreation opportunities LWCF has protected near you.

So what’s the problem? On September 30, LWCF will expire unless it is renewed by Congress. You can make a difference today, it’s easy! Congress is supportive of LWCF but has not prioritized voting on it yet. Take action today to tell Congress this program is a priority to you. We’ve made it super easy to send your lawmaker a message. Just use the form below!

 

Human-powered snowsports are an important part of the $887 BILLION outdoor recreation economy and the fastest growing segment of the winter outdoor recreation industry. With 16 MILLION annual participants, booming equipment expenditures and related tourism revenues, human-powered winter backcountry activities create jobs and bring income into rural economies while contributing to community development, quality of life, health, and public land conservation.

See below for the full report, compiled and written by Natalie Knowles. Or click here to download the pdf.

2018 Trends and Impact Report

Back in March we put out a Winter Recreation Survey asking you how you experience winter on public lands. The survey was produced to help Winter Wildlands Alliance and our land management partners better understand what kinds of human-powered winter recreation are happening on public lands and what the biggest threats might be to the ways we like to play. The deadline for submissions was May 31, 2018. 1376 of you responded. Kristie Van Voorst from Boulder, Colorado, was the lucky winner of an outrageous complete gear and outfit package from our friends at DPS, FlyLow and Native Eyewear! Stay tuned for the next one; it definitely pays to play!

Meanwhile here are some of the top results from that survey:


 


Outtakes

Here’s a list of some fun answers we couldn’t help but share:

How do you recreate in winter?

  • Walking the cat (not dog!)
  • Winter is normally the best time for non-winter sports, like climbing and biking, in Southern Utah.
  • Pond Hockey
  • SnowBall Fights
  • Scuba Diving

What are your top threats to winter recreation?

  • Damn chain rules going to the mountain
  • The Orange Man
  • Motivating our children
  • Dog Poop
  • Winter Wildlands Alliance

It Pays to Play!!

Kristie Van Voorst of Boulder, Colorado won this sweet set-up plus a pair of DPS Skis–just for filling out our survey! Don’t miss the next one!

Last year, after exhausting all other avenues, we filed a lawsuit challenging over-snow vehicle use maps on 3 National Forests – the Boise, Payette, and Bridger-Teton. Today, we’re pleased to report that we’ve dismissed the challenge because the Forest Service recognized that these maps don’t comply with the OSV Rule and withdrew them.

Winter travel planning is a big deal for Winter Wildlands Alliance. The Over-Snow Vehicle Rule is a hard-won regulation that came about after a decade of advocacy work and we’re committed to seeing it properly implemented. This means that the majority of National Forests that get snow will need to go through winter travel planning. Any forest that wants to roll existing designations into an official winter travel plan — through a so-called “grandfathering provision” — can only do so if they can show that those designations comply with the OSV Rule.

The grandfathering of existing designations is a bit tricky, and could possibly be interpreted as a loophole big enough to drive a snowcat through. The provision isn’t meant to allow forests to codify the status quo and call it good. It’s intended to help make winter travel planning efficient by allowing decisions that already comply with the OSV Rule to be rolled into new plans.

However, faced with a shortage of resources and a desire not to stir up conflict, some forests have been tempted to circumvent winter travel planning by publishing over-snow vehicle use maps (OSVUMs) based on current management, regardless of whether or not that management complies with the OSV Rule. Publishing an OSVUM is the final step in winter travel planning, so once a forest publishes one of these maps they’re essentially closing the door on the opportunity to revisit OSV use designations or do any further planning.

Codifying the status quo without actually doing anything makes all of our past efforts to establish a protocol, process and requirements for winter travel planning moot. Which is why, when the Payette, Boise, and Bridger-Teton published OSVUMs based on outdated decisions that don’t comply with the OSV Rule, we realized we’d have to sue if we wanted to keep OSV Rule implementation on track. We don’t take litigation lightly, and prior to filing a lawsuit we approached each forest and made a case for why they should withdraw their maps and commit to doing winter travel planning instead. But they weren’t having it. So, in September 2017, we sued.

A few months ago we received notice from each forest that they’ve withdrawn their OSVUMs and will conduct winter travel planning when resources allow. Because the case is now moot, we’ve withdrawn the lawsuit. Onward and upward.

Now it’s time to talk about what comes next. The Bridger-Teton is about to embark on a forest plan revision, which is a perfect opportunity to set the stage for winter travel planning. Once the forest plan revision is completed (a process that usually takes around 5 years), we’d like to see the Bridger-Teton roll right into winter travel planning. From forest planning through travel planning, we’ll be advocating for backcountry skiers and wildland and wildlife conservation and we’re excited to help the Bridger-Teton revamp it’s management to reflect current conditions, opportunities, and challenges on the forest.

Meanwhile, over in Idaho, the time is ripe right now for the Boise and Payette to start working on winter travel plans. We understand that winter travel planning isn’t easy, but there are ways to ease the process. Right now would be a great time for these forests to convene collaboratives, or work with existing ones, to start thinking about winter travel planning and coming up with ideas and agreements that could inform the planning process and make it less resource-intensive.

Winter travel planning doesn’t have to start with the NEPA process, and now that we’re all in agreement that these forests need to do winter travel planning, we should be able to move forward with figuring out winter travel management plans that balance motorized and non-motorized snowsports and protect wildlife habitat and winter wildlands.

Related Media:

2018 07 12 Legal Challenge Holds the Line on Winter Motorized Travel