Protecting snowmobile access in Idaho

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The Great Burn Saga Continues!

 This section of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest provides some of the finest primitive riding in North Idaho.  In fact, to find a comparable area in size and geography, one would have to travel to the Selkirk Mountains adjacent to Revelstoke, BC .  It is truly unique and because of that, ISSA has been embroiled in the fight to keep it open since 2004.  We have submitted comments, filed an objection but in the end, we were forced to decide whether to walk away from the area or file a lawsuit.  We chose the latter.  Eventually the Forest Service decided to settle and an agreement was reached that required the Forest to ‘make a new decision based’ on the alternatives in the Record of Decision before the next winter season.  After a number of extensions, they have recently issued a new decision.  Regretfully the new decision is the same as the old decision which prohibits snowmobiling in the Great Burn.  Once again, there are no resource issues or social issues that justify the closure it is simply because of the policy-guideline of Region 1 to manage areas Recommended as Wilderness as Wilderness.   There is no Forest Service Policy or Rule that requires them to do so.  ISSA has filed an objection to that decision. 

The objection states clearly the position of ISSA: 

“We are deeply disappointed by the Draft ROD.  In fact, we view it as a stubborn step backwards in the reasoned dialogue we have attempted to have with USFS personnel in Region 1 and the Forests.  The proverbial elephant in this room is the misbegotten “guidance” and the extent to which the Forest Service will defend it, or assure us of its demise.  Instead, the Draft ROD reflects a half-hearted yet belated effort at ending up exactly where we started. 

To be specific, we have repeatedly asked for some recognition, if even symbolic recognition, of some aspect of continuing motorized use of the Clearwater RWA’s.  One might think the agency would welcome this strategy, as it might persuasively rebut our central premise that USFS Region 1, perhaps with oversight from the Washington Office, is mandating an inflexible prohibition on continuing motorized/mechanized use in RWA’s.  The agency’s insistence on imposing the prohibition not coincidentally dictated by the “guidance” coupled with the conspicuous failure to consider any meaningful alternative(s) here only fuels our fears and intensifies our effort to seek judicial resolution of this issue.”

The Great Burn is a classic example of why snowmobilers must stay united.  The opposition we have mounted could not be done by one club or a few individuals. It takes the resources of a committed statewide organization to protect our access to the backcountry.

Valley County

The Wilks brothers, two Texas billionaires, purchased 172,000 acres of private property in Valley County that was previously owned by Boise Cascade and then Potlatch.  That hit the news and the uproar began.  The media certainly didn’t help by jumping to many incorrect assumptions!  Albert Einstein was right when he said, “Assumptions are made and most assumptions are wrong”.    

Here is what is Correct:

·       DF Development LLC which is owned by two gentlemen from Texas purchased the property.
·       All logging contracts were cancelled.  They will be reissued according to the guidelines of the              new owners.
·       Most public access through their property is done through cost share agreements or                                easements.  The new owners are willing to work with Valley County on any access concerns.
·       Representatives of the company are currently having regular conversations with Larry Laxson,          Valley County Parks and Recreation about future use of their land.
·       This company owns property in Idaho County and according to a County Commissioner there,            they are fine landowners and good partners.
·       The owners of the property are not experienced with recreation needs but they are more than              willing to listen and learn.
·       While touring the land before the purchase, they became concerned about over-logging, the                size and condition of the elk herds and the amount of GARBAGE in and around the dispersed              camping sites.

If we are going to be allowed to continued access to their property beyond what is covered by easements, we are going to have to prove that we can be good neighbors and dependable partners.  We will need to demonstrate that they can trust us to use their land in a responsible manner.  Remember they are under no legal obligation to allow public access anymore than you have to let people use your property.  It is truly a privilege and we must respect their right to determine how their property is used.

A good lesson for all of us--Verify our easements. Make sure they are ‘Easements Appurtenant’. What is that you ask?  An easement is the right to use another’s land for a limited purpose.   Most easements will be “appurtenant” to the involved properties. That is a fancy way of saying the easement permanently “runs with the land” and may not be transferred separately from the property

Public land issues

Public lands issues not only affect snowmobilers ability to access these precious areas. Anyone who wants to be able to have the right to access "public" lands for the purpose of recreation should be able to. Therefore, as snowmobilers, we feel it is our right to protect what is ours and yours -public land access. 
In an effort with local snowmobile clubs and the Idaho State Snowmobile Association, we have many individuals dedicated to the cause of public land issues. Sandra Mitchell, the Idaho State Snowmobile Association Public Lands Director, is well versed in this subject and has spent time with local people all the way up our national branch of the government discussing and fighting for our rights

For more information:

 Blue Ribbon Coalition

 Idaho Recreation Council

 Idaho State Snowmobile Association

Snowmobile Alliance of Western States

If you would like more information, contact your local snowmobile club or Sandra Mitchell:

News from the Salmon- Challis National Forest - Timber Sale:

Contact:  Amy Baumer (Public Affairs Officer)           208‐756‐5145 December 06, 2016


The public should be advised that current timber sale operations associated with the Stateline Timber Sale Stewardship Contract, located near Lost Trail Pass, may restrict public use and access to the Anderson Mountain Road 081 and Anderson Mountain Spur Road 081‐A.  Timber sale contractors are posting the road to ensure that the public is aware of ongoing timber sale operations occurring on or near the Anderson Mountain Road 081 from Highway 43 to the junction with the Anderson Mountain Spur Road 081‐A and on the Anderson Mountain Spur Road 081‐A.  The public should expect delays and limited access during weekdays through December 31st while operations are occurring.    In lieu of the Anderson Mountain Road, skiers can use the Ander‐Rich trail which nearly parallels the Anderson Mountain Road.  This trail ties into the Richardson Ridge trail.  There will be no activities or operations near the cabin or the parking area for the Chief Joseph Pass Ski Area.   

Lands issues from Sandra Mitchell

ISSA made news in the New York Times! Although this article does not convey the reality of how the snowmobile community respects the lands and wildlife of our country, it tells a story of a beautiful animal with whom we share our lands. This article has nothing to do with snowmobiling. It is another attempt to restrict access to public lands. We do not snowmobile with the Caribou. Nor do we encroach on there habitat. This article is one of the most bias reads that I have ever read. Judge for self and read on.

With respect to wildlife
Greg Davis Snowmobiler