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For the week of March 28 through April 3, 2001

Snow zoning scores

Snowmobilers, skiers report pact a success

Express Staff Writer

Agreements for managing winter recreation in the Sawtooth National Forest have met with resounding success this winter, say forest managers.

Deb Cooper, Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) ranger, said zoning areas of snow for skiers and snowmobiliers near Stanley has most winter users smiling.

And in the Wood River Valley, SNRA information officer Ed Cannady said, "the agreement is working really well."

Last fall and early winter, Sawtooth National Forest supervisor Bill LeVere signed orders that effectively closed certain areas to snowmobile access in the Wood River and Sawtooth Valleys and the Stanley Basin. The idea is to separate conflicting groups of winter skiers and snowmobilers.

The Wood River Valley agreement came after years of debate and after a group consisting of both skiers and snowmobilers hammered out boundaries they said they could both live with.

The group, the Winter Recreation Coalition, began in 1995 in an effort to resolve the winter recreation conflict.

"I think it was a great season," recreation coalition member Kim Nilsen said. "I didn’t hear any negative feedback from anyone.

"I think the fires have gone out, and some friendships are budding, and we’re going to behave like a community again."

Cooper said the few small areas in the Sawtooth Valley and Stanley Basin that were closed to motorized use have given skiers better opportunities to enjoy their sport with little effect on the vast amount of terrain open to snowmobiliers.

"There are abundant snowmobiling opportunities in the Stanley area, even with the low snow levels this winter, and the skiing has been excellent on area trails," she said.

There have been a few minor incidents of snowmobile trespass into closed areas, but overall compliance has been very good, Cooper said.

"There is a real spirit of cooperation in the local community to make this agreement work, and we’re very pleased with the way folks have responded," she said.


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