It's a winter recreation crisis

  I would like to commend Rachel Odell for her recent story about snowmobiler and skier conflict on public lands (HCN, 1/19/04: A moment of truth for user fees). The national forests, like the national parks, should take a stand on this issue sooner, rather than later, if they wish to head off serious resource degradation and dangerous encounters between the groups.

In my home area, the Logan Ranger District of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest, talks have broken down and snowmobilers are openly violating a newly created 7,500-acre winter nonmotorized area, as well as the adjacent Naomi Wilderness, on a daily basis. Recently, a backcountry skier was charged and narrowly missed by a snowmobiler while attempting to photograph the illegal motorized use in the nonmotorized area. At the same time, motorized lawbreakers and part-time thugs — who have threatened skiers and vandalized their vehicles — are asking Congressman Rod Bishop to broker a "compromise" to the recently completed Forest Travel Plan.

The Forest Service must enforce its own policies. And we should not be forced to compromise with local terrorizers and criminals. Just like summer ORV users, winter ORVs should not be able to travel anywhere without regulation. Our forests and forest users are paying a big price for this type of thrill riding by a few.

Paul Rogers
Logan, Utah