Letter: Snowmobilers asked to ‘show respect’ for backcountry skiers in North Routt
Thank you Tom Ross for the excellent article about the Wooden Ski Rendezvous in Friday’s Steamboat Pilot & Today.
We (Friends of the Routt Backcountry) were there to celebrate our mission statement which is to “create and preserve quality winter non-motorized use areas on public lands.”
We were saddened to experience the deliberate snowmobile carnage on our favorite ski areas on Hahns Peak and Trilby Flats over the same weekend.
We have tried so many ways to get the word out about these areas, but we realize that because this process began 22 years ago, perhaps some folks are not even aware of the history.
Twenty-two years ago, we began the process of creating designated winter nonmotorized use on our national forest, working with motorized and nonmotorized users and different agencies over a four-year period. We identified Rabbit Ears Pass, Buffalo Pass and North Routt as the three areas that needed to be worked on.
By 2005, we had areas on Rabbit Ears and Buffalo Pass in official designation, but the U.S. Forest Service was forced to drop the North Routt plan due to lack of funds.
Since then, we have used the developed map that was made by the Forest Service to work with the Steamboat Lake Snowclub and local users and residents to educate, control parking, create a new motorized parking lot 1 mile north of Columbine. There is a small area on the new Forest Service map that shows an area on Hahns Peak as a suggested-use, nonmotorized use area. (2007 Forest Service decision).
A 2002 Forest Service map of the Hahns Peak area shows a much larger suggested-use, nonmotorized use area than the current area on Hahns Peak, covering Trilby Flats and stretching almost to the state park. These areas are used by the local guest ranches that have permits to take their clients into the backcountry — visitors and locals.
Community education has worked, until a few years ago, and we have appreciated the respect and kindness toward us and the use in these areas.
All we are asking is for those of you who are bringing your snowmobiles into these areas to please have respect for those of us who can only access these areas from the road, and we still have to climb an hour or two just to begin our ski descents. Give it a try. It feels much better to be a part of a community working together.
Friends of the Routt Backcountry
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