Snowmobilers lose court challenge to restrictions near Andrews Lake |

Snowmobilers lose court challenge to restrictions near Andrews Lake

DENVER ” Snowmobilers have lost an attempt in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to win access to the Andrews Lake area on Molas Pass.

The court Thursday upheld a lower court ruling that supported the U.S. Forest Service decision to ban motorized vehicles from 200 acres around the lake.

“We’re very pleased that the court agreed 100 percent with our perspective. The decision sets aside a tiny area around Andrews Lake for non-motorized use,” said Mark Pearson, executive director of the San Juan Citizens Alliance.

Laura Alsup, secretary and treasurer of the Silverton Snowmobile Club, said the decision actually excludes snowmobiles from an even larger area because the Andrews Lake site is a jumping off point for other routes.

“I’ll go to my grave thinking that the Forest Service started this on flimsy grounds,” she said, telling the Durango Herald: “There were going to be fireworks if we won.”

The snowmobilers had argued the Forest Service didn’t follow the correct procedures when it closed the area in 2001 because they prohibited a previous use. The agency decided to reserve the area, 10 miles south of Silverton, for skiers, snowshoers and snowboarders. It makes up less than 3 percent of the 7,100 acres at Molas pass where motorized travel is allowed.

The agency acted after several years of low snowfall had left the contending groups competing for less space.

The groups suing over the ban were the Silverton Snowmobile Club, Colorado Snowmobile Association and the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance.

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