Apr 14 2015

USFS to increase snowmobile access in Eldorado NF


Eldorado NF winter recreational use map.  Link to interactive map here.

Eldorado Natl. Forest Service Map

The US Forest Service recently extended the comment period to April 20th, 2015 for their review of winter travel management plans of Eldorado National Forest to determine what changes should be implemented for the future. According to Snowlands.org, “the Forest Service’s Proposed Action for the Carson Pass area designates nearly all the lands adjacent to the highway open to snowmobile use. This includes the route to Meiss Meadow, toward Winnamucca Lake and to Woods Lake.”

The areas near Carson Pass on Hwy. 88 and Echo Summit on Hwy 50 near South Lake Tahoe are two of the more popular destinations for backcountry skiers, snowboarders, and snowshoers in the greater Lake Tahoe region. The current proposal increases legal access for snowmobiles on the north and south sides of Hwy 88 around Carson Pass, and will inevitably create more user conflicts in the areas around Loon Lake and the Van Vleck Bunkhouse area, between Hwy. 88 and Hwy. 50.

A cursory look at a map reveals that there are limited trailheads which will practically insures conflicts between motorized and human powered users.

An ounce of prevention

To prevent the proposed plan from being approved more comments need to be registered with the bureaucrats making decisions on the future of winter recreation in Eldorado National Forest. To do so you are encouraged to submit your comments online, here. You can also send a letter via snail mail to:

Micki D. Smith
Amador Resource and Recreation Staff Officer
Eldorado National Forest
100 Forni Road
Placerville, CA 95667

Or fax your comments to: 530-621-5297

Snowlands.org suggests making the following points with regard to the Winter Travel Management Plan with Eldorado National Forest:

  1. The situation on Eldorado National Forest is critical. We need you to help persuade the Forest Service to modify their proposed action so that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Eldorado National Forest Over-Snow Vehicle Use Designation prohibits the use of snowmobiles on all lands that have historically been managed as non-motorized in winter.
  2. At stake are lands in the Loon Lake and Van Vleck Bunkhouse area, between Highway 50 and Highway 88, and along Highway 88 that have been managed as non-motorized in the past and should continue to be managed as non-motorized in the future.
  3. It is only fair that the Forest Service set aside more lands for non-motorized winter recreation in order to provide a fair balance between non-motorized and motorized recreation. Please be specific - ask them to designate the Anderson Ridge area on Highway 88 non-motorized because it contains a network of ski and snowshoe trails.
  4. It is important that you tell the Forest Service why you want to see areas set aside for clean, quiet and safe winter recreation.

As commentary, I would also recommend suggesting that they expand the number of trailheads to reduce the potential for conflicts, rather than limiting access to public lands by reducing or merely maintaining the trailheads that exist. User conflicts could potentially involve issues of avalanche safety. It is a known trend that the fastest growing demographic for avalanche fatalities are snowmobilers. Allowing motorized and non-motorized users on the same slopes is a potential safety hazard.

Related Posts:
Snowlands View of Eldorado NF Plan
View existing comments to the Eldorado NF Winter Travel Plan
Make a comment on the Eldorado NF Winter Travel Plan

© 2015

  • JeremyD

    Comments submitted to USFS. Thanks for putting it out there that this is happening. I have no problem with the machines but they have so much space as is and can cover so much ground that they really do not need more added in the vicinity of Carson Pass. Not to mention a select few like to go where they are not allowed as it stands in the bowls around forestdale and I have seen tracks in the Crater Lake Bowl on Red Lake peak which is especially no bueno.