Conservation groups want more snowmobile regulations

Ninety conservation groups with 1.3 million members are petitioning the U.S. Forest Service to more heavily regulate snowmobiles, according to a published report in Pinedale, Wyo.

The group, led by Winter Wildlands Alliance (WWA), wants snowmobiles to have the same regulations as off-road vehicles. Under the proposal, snowmobiles would no longer be exempt from regulations that limit motorized travel to designated areas, trails and roads. A 2005 Travel Management Rule makes that exemption. Along with the repeal of the travel rule, the group also is asking for minimum snow depths for snowmobile operation and for “quiet winter recreation” areas.

“This is a matter of fairness and consistency,” WWA Executive Director Mark Menlove told the Sublette Examiner. “We acknowledge that snowmobiles are a popular winter use and that they have their place on national forest lands. But the current ‘anything goes’ approach to winter management allows one user group to dominate the winter landscape at the expense of all others and it puts fragile winter ecosystems at risk.”

Utah Snowmobile Association Director Curt Kennedy and Wyoming Snowmobile Association President Jeff Moberg are against the proposal, and Moberg noted the regulations are unlikely to change.

“We’re comfortable with the Forest Service,” he said. “We’re comfortable with the fact that they are reasonable people.”

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