Officials: Wait to snowmobile |

Officials: Wait to snowmobile

With an early snowfall this year of 6 inches on Sept. 16, it’s easy for powder hounds to want to get started a little early.

On Buffalo and Rabbit Ears passes, a few enthusiasts already have strapped on their gear in anticipation of another heavy snow year, much like the 430-inch 2005-06 ski season.

Although signs of winter are coming, the Routt National Forest officials want to remind snowmobile riders that 12 inches of snow is required to operate the machines on national forest grounds. Twelve inches are not yet present in Routt County.

“Snowmobiles on less than a foot of snow can cause damage to the land and vegetation, and can create unwanted paths and increase erosion,” said Rachel Franchina, recreation manager for the Hahns Peak and Bears Ears District, in response to the people riding snowmobiles in mid-September.

Riders caught in areas with under a foot of snow will face fines of up to $5000 and possible jail time. They also will be expected to repair any damage they may have caused to the Routt National Forest.

“We all enjoy and appreciate all the national forests have to offer – clean water, recreation, beauty, and tranquility.” Franchia said Monday. “It’s up to each individual who uses the national forest to help take care of it – to know what the rules are and to abide by them.”

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