Winter Travel Planning: Finding Balance in California’s Backcountry
Background for California Winter Travel Planning
In 2015, as a result of a federal court order in a lawsuit brought by Winter Wildlands Alliance, the United States Forest Service amended Subpart C of its 2005 Travel Management Rule to require that all national forests that receive enough snowfall for Over-Snow Vehicle (OSV) use designate routes and areas where OSV use is allowed. (For more detailed information on national winter travel planning, check out our Winter Travel Management Planning page.)
Also, as part of a separate legal agreement with Winter Wildlands Alliance, Snowlands Network, and the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Forest Service agreed to fully assess under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) the impacts of snowmobiles on wildlife, plants and quiet recreation as a result of the State’s snowmobile trail grooming program on five specific national forests in California — Stanislaus, Eldorado, Tahoe, Plumas and Lassen. Such review is being undertaken concurrently with full winter travel management planning as coordinated by the Region 5 (California) office of the Forest Service.
As part of the agreement, each of these five forests must consider an alternative management scenario developed by Winter Wildlands Alliance and Snowlands Network. Groups representing the snowmobile community have been given this opportunity as well. As such, we worked with Snowlands to develop and submit a “Skiers Alternative” for each forest. These alternatives strive to balance motorized and non-motorized winter recreation by proposing areas for OSV use that do not conflict with places that are important for backcountry skiers and other quiet recreation activities.
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