New rules impacting snowmobile use in the White River National Forest's Dillon Ranger District are in effect.
"There are some new areas that require winter motorized travel to stay on designated routes where it had been unrestricted in the past," said Ken Waugh, district recreation staff officer.
Motorized travel has been restricted to designated routes in the Golden Horseshoe (east of Breckenridge), Sts. John (west of road) and the three forks of the Swan River drainage. The purpose of the restriction is to minimize user conflicts and to protect wildlife habitat.
Due to the White River travel management plan, completed in March 2011, some areas are now completely closed to motorized over-snow use. These areas include Bald Mountain, Miners Creek, Indiana Gulch, Pennsylvania Gulch, Spruce Creek, Frey Gulch and Peru Creek.
There are some areas that are open to motorized over-snow use without restriction. These areas are the Spring Creek area and the area east of Montezuma, which includes Webster Pass, Deer Creek, Sts. John (east of road), Radical Hill and Sheep Mountain. The Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area will continue to provide snowmobile opportunities through a fee permit system.
Winter motor vehicle use maps are available for free at the Dillon Ranger Station or on the U.S. Forest Service website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/
recmain/whiteriver/recreation. The maps show the entire forest, including forest roads, trails and areas designated for over-snow motor vehicle use. "No Snowmobile" signs will only be posted in key areas, not in every prohibited area. Motorized users are responsible for obtaining a winter motor vehicle use map to determine where he or she can ride.
Winter travel on foot, snowshoes, and cross-country skis is not limited to designated routes or prohibited in any area, unless otherwise posted.
The Spring Creek area will be groomed this year through a partnership with the High Country Snowmobile Club (HCSC). The club obtained grants from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife to purchase a groomer and to start a trail grooming program. Club members will volunteer to operate the equipment and provide a groomed trail surface on 15 miles of designated routes in the area. The HCSC will also help with signing the Eagles Nest Wilderness boundary and with educating the public about not entering that area on snowmobiles.
"We are looking forward to the improved signage at the wilderness boundary and helping to educate snowmobilers about the boundary," club president Rich Holcroft said. "These efforts will help to ensure snowmobilers can continue to enjoy the Spring Creek area."
The Dillon Ranger District winter rangers will be educating the public about the new changes, checking snowmobile registrations and responding to snowmobiles in closed areas. Anyone observing snowmobiles in closed areas is encouraged to record detailed information and report it to the Dillon Ranger District at (970) 468-5400.