For the week of December 23 thru December 29, 1998  

Snowmobilers and skiers asked to respect one another

Express Staff Writer

d23snow1.jpg (20078 bytes)Snowmobilers have a wide range of areas set aside for their use. (Express photo by Charmaine McCann)

An influx of snowmobilers from out of the area seeking the great snow on local trails has prompted area recreationists to increase signage and educational fliers directing the visitors to locations where they can enjoy their sport.

The SNRA tries to manage winter recreation to maximize everyone’s opportunity for a quality experience within a fairly confined area, winter recreation manager for the Sawtooth National Recreation Area Ed Cannady said.

"There are abundant opportunities for skiing and snowmobiling both on groomed tracks as well as in the backcountry," he said.

But everyone needs to work together, he continued.

"The tracks made by snowmobiles can create deep ruts making it difficult for cross-country skiers to use the trails," said Cannady.

"We have free maps available at the SNRA headquarters north of Ketchum," Cannady said of the office eight miles north of Ketchum. "They show the existing opportunities for both skiers and snowmobilers."

The local Winter Coalition, made up of snowmobilers, cross-country and backcountry skiers and other winter recreationists, has worked with the Forest Service to develop designated areas for each sport.

Baker Creek has many trails groomed specially by the local snowmobiler’s association for the machines. Areas of Smiley Creek, north of Galena Summit, and farther north in Stanley are havens for the motorized sport fans. Fairfield, to the south along U.S. Route 20, also has a large expanse of terrain for snowmobilers.

Cannady pointed out that there are several areas on the SNRA that are closed to snowmobiles, some to protect wildlife and others to protect the skier’s experience.

"Snowmobiles are not allowed in the Prairie Creek drainage of the Big Wood or in the area of the Galena Lodge Trail System," Cannady said. "There are only three short sections where snowmobiles are allowed to ride on the Boulder Ski Trail, which runs from Galena Lodge to the SNRA headquarters."

In the three shared-use trail sections, the snowmobile and ski trails merge to cross bridges, Cannady said.

"When on these sections, however, snowmobilers must adhere to a 15 mph speed limit and ride in single file on the far right so as not to disturb the groomed trail for skiers," he said.

Cannady said that allowing snowmobilers to cross the Harriman Trail gives them access to other groomed snowmobile terrain that separates them from the ski trails.

"But it’s a privilege that must not be abused," he said.

Groomed ski trails in the Baker Creek and Easley Hot Springs areas north of Ketchum have been damaged by snowmobile use in the past two weeks, according to Cannady, prompting the barrage of educational information.


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