Policy Update – March 2024

We share updates on Tahoe National Forest, wolverines in Colorado, Plumas National Forest, the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, and our Backcountry Snowsports Initiative hut trip.

Photo by Glenna Haug on Unsplash

(3/28/2024)

On the Ground in California

An update from our California Stewardship Manager, Kelly Bessem:

The Tahoe National Forest has acknowledged that their winter travel plan will be signed into effect this month. It remains to be seen if they were able to minimize use conflicts along the PCT corridor, which was the main issue that slowed the plan’s progress. If the Tahoe ultimately decided to leave the full corridor open to motorized use, we may see higher-level decision making that further clarifies how the PCT must be managed in winter.

Plumas National Forest has expressed interest in signing their winter OSV plan into place, but continues to face staffing shortages as they tackle their post-Dixie Fire workload. WWA will push for the support needed in order to get this stalled plan past the finish line and into the implementation phase.

The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) is back on track with winter travel planning after accepting initial comments in 2019. They plan to develop alternatives for public comment by late 2025, and to address a comprehensive solution to the Mt. Rose Meadows area along SR431. Alongside local WWA grassroots group Snowlands Network, we believe this highly concentrated area would benefit from a proposed regional park. This designation would provide funding for parking, facilities, and staff to manage this popular area.

Please reach out to our CA Stewardship Director with any questions or other requests at kbessem@winterwildlands.org.

From the Field in Colorado

An update from our Colorado Policy Coordinator, Brittany Leffel:

bill to reintroduce the fearless but vulnerable Wolverine is progressing through the Colorado General Assembly. As climate change drastically changes the snowpack of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado stands a cool chance of providing the best alpine habitat that Wolverines thrive on.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife estimates that Colorado can support roughly 140 wolverines, which would increase the wolverine population capacity in the Western U.S. by 20 percent. Even if the legislation passes, reintroduction is not imminent. It will likely require a 10J waiver from the US Fish & Wildlife that designates experimental populations under the Endangered Species Act and streamlines the consultation process. Still, it is something we will be discussing with the USFS alongside our conservation partners.

Even though spring has technically begun, Colorado is still in its “fake spring” phase. The recent storms have provided plenty of Type 2 fun and continued opportunities to collect winter recreation data via Colorado Mountain Club’s RIMS app. Once the snow melts, we will begin analyzing the data and providing the USFS with a clearer picture of what is occurring in the backcountry as winter travel planning ramps up later this spring.

And thank you to 10th Mountain Division Huts, Colorado Mountain Club, and our USFS friends at White River National Forest who helped make this year’s Backcountry Snowsports Initiative (BSI) Hut Trip at Camp Hale a success! It was a fantastic gathering of people who love to protect wild places and play in the snow. Is it wild if we say we are already counting down to next year’s BSI trip?

If you have any questions, please reach out to our Colorado Policy Coordinator at: bleffel@winterwildlands.org.