Sawtooth Valley snowmobile bans set
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
As part of an ongoing effort to relieve
conflicts between skiers and snowmobilers in central Idaho, sections of
the Sawtooth Valley have been formally zoned for non-motorized use during
"I think itís a good deal,"
said Brett Wooley, president of the Stanley Snowmobile Club.
"Overall, the main goal is to reduce conflict."
However, Wooley pointed out that if skiers
do not use the areas set aside for them, snowmobilers may object to the
closures in the future.
The mandate from the Sawtooth National
Forest comes just three months after the northern Wood River Valley was
divvied up between the two user groups, often at odds over consumption of
Like the October decision to designate
motorized and non-motorized areas in the Wood River Valley, the recent
Sawtooth Valley decision is the result of collaborative efforts between a
diverse group of local stakeholders.
For the past two and a half years, a group
called the Sawtooth Community Winter Recreation Partnership has been
meeting to resolve winter use conflicts in the Sawtooth Valley. The group
is made up of representatives of the skiing and snowmobiling communities,
private land owners, local businesses and the Idaho Department of Fish and
"This is a good beginning on the road
to resolving conflict," said Julie Meissner, a skier member of the
group. "It gives both user groups areas where they can have quality
In the past three months, the group made
recommendations to Sawtooth National Forest supervisor Bill LeVere
designed to alleviate user conflicts. LeVere took those recommendations
into consideration and adopted them as policy on Jan. 16.
"More important to me than the area
designations themselves is the local process that led to my
decision," LeVere said. "Any time a local group of diverse users
can come together and reach agreement over some fairly contentious issues,
itís a significant event."
The following areas have been closed to
over-snow vehicles, including snowmobiles, as a result of LeVereís
mandate: the Galena Summit area to the Sawtooth Valley floor; the Alturas
Lake area; the Redfish Lake moraine area; the northern and southern Nip
and Tuck areas, near Stanley; "Housewife Hill," just east of
Lower Stanley; and Crooked and Park creeks, at the northern edge of the
"The members of the Sawtooth Community
Winter Recreation Partnership should be applauded for their leadership and
efforts in building this win/win solution in the Sawtooth Valley and
Stanley Basin," LeVere said.
The closures are effective for one year
from the date LeVere signed them, providing an opportunity to make changes
based on their perceived success during the current season.
The restrictions are similar to those
agreed to two years ago, though the closures were voluntary until now. The
voluntary use areas met with limited success, and the group asked the
Forest Service to officially enact the closures as forest policy.
"When a group puts this kind of effort
and thought into a map, I have to believe thereís merit to their
suggestions," LeVere said. "And when my staff concurs that these
are good ideas, itís time to take action."
Maps are available at all Sawtooth National
Forest offices and at local businesses in the Stanley area.