Comments are now closed on the Eldorado NF winter travel plan.
The Eldorado National Forest failed to seriously consider and analyze any significant further restrictions on OSV use and actually proposed to open many popular and historic cross-country and backcountry ski zones to motorized use, over the concerns of skiers who value solitude and quiet winter wildlands.
The forest’s Proposed Action (Alternative 2) failed in a number of ways to comply with NEPA and the 2015 OSV Rule. It also proposed reversing historic protections and opens many important and longstanding non-motorized areas to snowmobiles, including Anderson Ridge, numerous traditionally non-motorized areas accessed from the Carson Pass corridor, the historic Van Vleck closure, and the area around the Ludlow Hut. Alternative 4 was even worse, proposing to allow snowmobiles in the Loon Lake winter recreation area, in the Caples Creek recommended wilderness area, in several semi-primitive non-motorized areas, and in the Round Top Biological/Geological Special Interest Area!
We suggested that the forest go back to the drawing board, as the Lassen had to do, to come up with a revised or supplemental DEIS with a broader range of alternatives. Short of that, we advocated for Alternative 3 as the only alternative that presented a clear-eyed vision for winter travel management that recognizes historically non-motorized areas, focuses OSV designations in zones where OSV use actually occurs, minimizes user conflict and acknowledges that not all parts of the forest receive sufficient snow for OSV recreation.