Winter Travel Planning on the Shoshone National Forest
The Shoshone National Forest is currently reviewing public comments on their proposed winter travel management plan (Proposed Action) that they published in the spring of 2016. The Forest Service is also working on developing additional Alternatives to analyze alongside the Proposed Action.
This winter travel plan will have major repercussions for skiing and snowboarding on the Shoshone National Forest. The Shoshone bills itself as a wild backcountry forest and indeed, there are some amazing adventures to be had deep in the Wind River, Absaroka, and Beartooth mountains. What’s at stake in this travel plan, however, and where most skiers go, is the Shoshone’s relatively accessible world-class front-country terrain. Specifically Togwotee Pass and the Beartooth Pass.
The Proposed Action was developed based on suggestions the Forest Service received from the public as well as from groups like Winter Wildlands Alliance, Togwotee Backcountry Alliance, and the Wyoming Wilderness Association. You can review the plan, and look at maps of what the Forest Service is proposing, online here.
For the first time ever the Shoshone is considering a set season for winter motorized use: November 15 – April 30 for high elevation areas like Togwotee and the Beartooths and December 1 – April 1 for lower elevation areas. Implementing these season dates would reduce conflicts between over-snow vehicles and wildlife and is a balanced way for skiers and snowmobilers to share the Beartooth Pass while recognizing that the two user groups have traditionally used this area during different and distinct seasons. These season dates also bring the Shoshone in line with how it’s neighbor, the Bridger-Teton, manages winter use on Togwotee Pass.
We are also pleased to see that the Shoshone is proposing to formally close the cross-country ski trails on Togwotee Pass to motorized use (excepting grooming). The local trails group in Dubois – DART – spends a lot of resources grooming these trails for skiing and their efforts can be completely undermined by just one or two irresponsible OSV users. By closing, and signing, these areas cross-country skiers on Togwotee Pass will finally have non-motorized trails to enjoy.
We are also advocating that the Forest Service consider implementing a minimum snow depth restriction of 18 inches to ensure that over-snow vehicle use is only occurring when there’s enough snow to protect the underlying vegetation and that they consider protecting additional wildlife habitat in the Dubois area.
The Shoshone National Forest will hold public meetings the week of March 20th to discuss the status of the travel management planning process. During these meetings, the Forest Service will update the public as to why there has been a pause in the process, explain the next steps in developing a minimum road system, and present an updated timeline for the process.
Meetings will be held at the following times and locations:
- March 21, Lander Community Center, 950 Buena Vista Drive, Lander, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
- March 22, Headwaters Art and Convention Center, 20 Stalnaker St., Dubois, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
- March 23, Grizzly Hall, Park County Library, 1500 Heart Mountain Street, Cody, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
For information and updates on the Shoshone National Forest’s travel management process, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/shoshone/home/?cid=stelprd3846526