Policy Update – March 2021

A human-powered win in the Centennial Mountains, take a survey about the Manti La Sal, and Ski Kind Film Festival

Photo Credit: Jason Hummel (On the ancestral lands of the Coast Salish, Stillaguamish, and other Nations)

From Hilary Eisen, WWA Policy Director (3/22/2021)

It’s officially spring and while many people (myself included) are still skiing powder, we’re also starting to reflect on this past winter season.

Throughout the past few months, we’ve received reports from across the country of intense crowding at backcountry trailheads and heightened use conflict.

We’re working to fully understand the current state of the backcountry and best identify how to take action and how to involve our Alliance. If you have input you’d like to provide, please email us!

A Win in the Centennial Mountains

In January, we were asked by the US Forest Service to contribute comments on a temporary use permit application for an outfitter to run heli-skiing trips on Mt. Jefferson in the Centennial Mountains. We called on you, our Alliance, to submit comments to the Caribou Targhee National Forest District Ranger against the special use permit.

Our main concerns were for user safety in an area known for unreliable snowpack as well as to protect the wilderness character of the land. Thanks to your advocacy, the District Ranger rejected the temporary use permit.

We cannot thank you enough for taking the time to share your opinion and protect these vital public lands. Our Alliance is stronger because of you.

Manti La Sal National Forest

What comes to mind when you envision outdoor recreation in southern Utah? Exploring winding canyons, biking over slickrock, splitter cracks, and…skiing? Yes. Skiing. If this doesn’t come as a surprise to you, then you’re exactly the person we’re looking for. Winter Wildlands Alliance and Outdoor Alliance are teaming up to measure the economic impact of backcountry skiing on the Manti La Sal National Forest. Covering more than 1.2 million acres of public land in the central and southeastern parts of Utah and the far western part of Colorado, the Manti La Sal National Forest ranges from the Abajo and La Sal mountains in southeastern Utah to the Wasatch Plateau and Sanpitch mountains hundreds of miles away in central Utah. With peaks stretching to 12,721 feet, the Manti La Sal National Forest includes Utah’s second-highest mountains (the La Sals) and there are amazing opportunities for backcountry skiing, splitboarding, and other snowsports all across the forest.

If you’ve skied, snowshoed, or otherwise played in the snow in southern Utah, please help us out by taking this survey. Quantifying the economic impact of human-powered snowsports on the Manti La Sal National Forest will help us to advocate for snowsports enthusiasts and make a case for protecting and encouraging winter recreation opportunities in the upcoming forest plan revision.

Ski Kind Film Festival

As a coordinated campaign created by Winter Wildlands Alliance and Granite Backcountry Alliance, Ski Kind has provided a code of ethics for backcountry adventurers this winter season in the face of many challenges.

Spring is upon us and the #SkiKind mentality is more important than ever. From the lift line to the skin track to the tailgate aprés: we are our best selves sliding over snow. Celebrate the backcountry responsibility code with an all-new lineup of films — wherever you find yourself this spring ski season.

Check out the line-up and watch today: www.skikind.org/film-festival. Ticket sales support our on-going Ski Kind stewardship fund, which will begin to have impact during the 2021-22 season. Enjoy!

– Hilary