SAWS Action Alert
On April 1st and 2nd of 2004, the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District in the Deschutes National Forest held a “summit” to review and possibly limit any user conflicts. The main item up for discussion was a proposed speed limit through Dutchman’s Flat and non-motorized users were promoting the closure of the Dutchman Flat snow park to motorized users. According to everyone I have spoken to, closure of Tumalo Mountain was NEVER discussed.
On April 30, 2004 the local ranger, Walter Schloer, posted closure information at: http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/centraloregon/news/2004/04/040430dutchman.shtml
Between the summit and posted closure, the ranger’s office and Portland Regional Forest Service office were inundated with cards, letters, e-mail and telephone calls, most all pushing for the closure of Tumalo Mountain by non-motorized groups.
As motorized users ran across the posting on some internet forums, a tremendous uproar forced the Forest Service to hold a public meeting, two weeks after announcing the closure. Motorized users came out in force, by some estimates outnumbering the non-motorized users three to one. I am told that the meeting was a facade and that there was never any intention of using the meeting to initiate any change in the policy.
Through numerous FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests (if you would like scanned copies of the information provided in these requests, simply e-mail katies-OR@Snowmobile-Alliance.org and I will send them to you as soon as they are all scanned) it became clear that the safety claims against snowmobilers were unfounded. We all know that there are bad apples in every group, however, law enforcement found no legitimate conflicts and issued no citations to snowmobilers for a conflict with a non-motorized user; at least not that the Forest Service has provided through FOIA requests.
A 2005 Summit is taking place on April 30th. Without a doubt, the non-motorized users are planning to force us out again. After careful study of the situation, The Snowmobile Alliance of Western States (SAWS) supports the following proposal:
There is only one equitable answer to the perceived "user conflicts."
Plowing Cascade Lakes highway approximately three additional miles to Todd Lake, including plowing the parking area already in existence for the use of non-motorized recreation only. There are three non-motorized use snowparks already in existence in this area so it is not a new concept. This will place non-motorized users at the edge of 286,708 acres of the Three Sisters Wilderness Area, which was already set aside by congress for the use of non-motorized recreation in a primitive area. Considering that wilderness is set aside to accommodate those who seek to escape from the motorized reality that our society has become, this proposal should provide those few non-motorized recreationists that are unwilling to share recreational areas with motorized users, the areas they so desire.
The remaining non-wilderness areas in this national forest are then reopened (excluding currently leased lands for downhill skiing) and made available to shared use recreation, which includes those non-motorized users who do not have a problem sharing with motorized users.
Any additional fees required to plow and maintain the road would be raised by user fees collected from those using the newly plowed area or simply raising the snowpark fees for the non-motorized users by $5 each. This would resolve most, if not all, user conflicts and allow non-motorized users to enjoy the land set aside especially for their pursuits.
It is anticipated that many of the radical non-motorized users will oppose any proposal that allows snowmobilers more areas to recreate than are currently allowed. In fact the organized campaign to ban motorized use was, and is, being led by the Wild Wilderness organization. This is an extremist organization campaigning to ban all motorized recreation on all public lands. This campaign is not about safety. It is about eradicating motorized use.
To quote one of their founders, Mr. Neubauer, "Areas that, like Dutchman Flat, have had much of their former redeeming values of peace, tranquility, solitude, and silence, effectively destroyed by the intrusive and chaotic behavior that accompanies motorized recreation." He also admits, "It is likely the area actually has fewer non-motorized visitors than a decade ago, a displacement caused by the growing incompatibility of the two user groups." Mr. Neubauer is correct when he states, "The Forest Service is obligated to take action to resolve these longstanding and ever increasing problems." We believe our proposal serves all user groups. Why is it that snowmobilers are always the group sustaining more restrictions and closed areas?
Please attend the Summit this Saturday April 30th, 9:00AM to 3:00PM, at the Bend, Oregon, Community Center, 1036 NE 5th Street, or send your support of our proposal to each of the following Forest Service employees who have a say in how the land is allocated for our use.
Share this information with any and all motorized users that you have contact with. It’s time to end the practice of closing areas to snowmobilers without legitimate public meetings. These are Federal Lands. We all have a stake in this, and a right to use the lands we pay our hard earned taxes to maintain for all members of the public to utilize.
Oregon SAWS Representative
SAWS Membership Secretary
Snowmobile Alliance of Western States
Protecting the right to ride for the owners of 247,864 registered snowmobiles (2004) in the western United States.
Copyright © 2005 Snowmobile Alliance of Western States. All Rights Reserved.
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