In a land use decision that has potentially wide-reaching implications for the snowmobile community, Federal officials have released a plan that would limit snowmobile access throughout popular riding regions along the northern Idaho and Montana borders.
The Great Burn is an area located along the Idaho-Montana border that spans more than 391 square miles and has no roads. Known for its views of nature and challenging riding terrain, it’s become a popular destination for both snowmobiling and other recreational vehicle enthusiasts.
But an instituted plan would place a moratorium on snowmobiles in the Great Burn wilderness area.
“I recognize that in affirming the decision to keep the (recommended wilderness areas) closed to motorized use, except for Fish Lake Trail in the summer, I am affecting a growing snow machine user group looking for rugged, backcountry riding,” said Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest Supervisor Cheryl Probert, according to the Lewiston Tribune. “My decision is rooted in the Forest Plan direction to protect wilderness character and future designation.”
As a part of the decision, motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles will continue to be permitted to travel to Fish Lake on a limited basis.
Essentially snowmobiles are out, but summer recreational vehicles are still in.
Representing the Idaho State Snowmobile Association, Sandra Mitchell stood in opposition to the proposed restrictions.
With a lack of evidence proving legitimate wildlife concerns, Mitchell sees the ban as frivolous. Accordingly, there have been relatively few conflicts with the snowmobile community in the past to warrant such a restrictive proposal.
An area that has been the center of debate in the past, in 2012 a Travel Management Plan was challenged through lawsuits alleging it was too lenient on motorized vehicles that could possibly endanger elk habitats. It was later ruled the agency had failed to study how motorized vehicles impacted elk habitation.