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USFS - Humboldt-Toiyabe NF - Patrol District

 On behalf of our membership, thank you for the opportunity to provide our comments.  I recognize the value of funding two OSV Ranger positions and can offer our wholesale support for this component of your grant request.  The Bridgeport Winter Recreation Area has seen a spate of violations this winter and maintaining a Forest Service law enforcement presence is, unfortunately, an absolute necessity.  Our only concern is the limited capacity of just two Officers/Rangers, given the vast area in need of vigilant monitoring.

Mammoth Nordic a 501c3 Non-Profit organization.  We have provided 17 kilometers of Nordic trails on the Inyo National Forest, groomed six days a week for Classic & Skate XC skiing, near the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center since 2007.  We purchased our own grooming equipment and provide all necessary administrative, operational and equipment services out-of-pocket and with volunteer effort.  For years, snowmobile incursions onto our Nordic Trail System have frustrated our efforts, angered our Nordic trail users and cost us a significant amount of time and money to address. 

* Below is our most recent contact with the Inyo National Forest regarding this issue.  Of course, we will support wholeheartedly a law enforcement grant to the INF as well.

Good afternoon Jon:
March 18, 2010

Spring is here, and unfortunately, disrespectful behavior has arrived with it.  I have encountered and documented a significant number of illegal snowmobile incursions on our Nordic Trail System, within the closed area to snowmobiles.  It began around March 11th and has been a virtually daily occurrence.  If you go for ski, you will see snowmo tracks everywhere.  The violations are coming from the RV Park and/or the Industrial Park via the 203 tunnel, the road to the INF bone yard, and Shady Rest Park:

From the RV Park:    The turnout to the Bone Yard:  

203 Tunnel, south end looking at RV Park:   203 Tunnel, north end looking toward Welcome Center:

I spoke with Law Enforcement Officer Matt Wittington Tuesday the 16th around 10:30 am, just as he was heading out to patrol the Orange Diamond snowmobile trails.  I had just groomed but he had to snowmobile over the Nordic trail system to get to the snowmobile trailhead at Shady Rest Winter Park.  This wrecks our grooming and also legitimizes snowmobile use in the closed area to anyone else on a snowmobile.  I understand this is not anyone's intention, but the consequence is clear.

Jon, you mentioned that law enforcement resources are being dispatched to the Lakes Basin area, which I adamantly support.  I know there are several Forest Protection Officers from the Fire Crew who have some presence on the Nordic trails, but I don't know how prepared they are to address snowmobile violations on the Nordic trails.  Please let me know what you think can be done to get a handle on this issue, and what I can do to help. [Brian Knox - 4/5/10]

 Please find attached comments from The Wilderness Society on two pending grants to the OHMVR Division from the U.S. Forest Service, Humboldt-Toiyabe for ground operations and law enforcement. [Sally Miller - 4/4/10]

 Ref:  Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest (HTNF) grant applications for the 2009-2010 grants and cooperative agreements program.  G09-02-04-G01 and G09-02-24-L01 (HTNF and HTNF Patrol District). 

I am writing this personal letter in support of the above mentioned applications which seek funds to back year round efforts by both the Carson Ranger District and the Bridgeport Ranger District for operations and for law enforcement.

As an outdoors enthusiast, I've often visited reaches of the HTNF within both of these districts in summer and winter.  In fact, I am most familiar with the Bridgeport and Carson Districts during snow season as I have snowshoed and skied the back country there for nearly two decades.

Based on this experience I can attest that snow season demands on these districts are large and growing.  Even if that might be true nearly everywhere, on the HTNF the need to meet these demands is now acute.

An example of the immediacy and size of demands on the HTNF is the new Bridgeport Winter Recreation Area (BWRA) created by Congress and affirmed as law in 2009.  The BWRA is to serve as a focus for high-altitude, high-end snowmobiling, but also, being multiple use National Forest, must support other snowmobile uses as well.

Snowmobiles are already authorized and used on the BWRA, typically off roads, for the four snowiest months of the snow season.  Visitors include dedicated snowmobile motorists from across the country, high-performance snowmobile test crews, video film crews, 'snowmoboarders' & snowmobile-skiers and, perhaps soon, commercial outfitter activities.

Under California law, it appears that numerous permutations of snow craft are allowed to access the BWRA as ever they can (typically upon the grade of CA SR 108) and, ostensibly, at their own risk.  These might include anything from 75cc scooter craft to 1000cc specialty snowmobiles, customized and modified snowmobiles, 'rock-sleds', modified snow-motorcycles, etc.

At this venue - where snowmobiles are even used to traverse bare asphalt to attain snowpack which may be vertically removed by one-thousand feet or more - the HTNF has identified potential parking for more than 100 snowmobile trailers and other snow-craft transport/staging vehicles from the Sierra's east side.  (The potential for increase in BWRA visitation from snowmobile west-side entry has not been evaluated but is not in doubt).

No less, terrain on the BWRA is of high value to the USMC, which has been able - so far with remarkable smoothness - to integrate its mountain warfare training activities on the area for more than half a century.

Also, the BWRA adjoins the Emigrant and Hoover Wilderness areas and it abuts the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT), all of which is valued for non motorized access.  The BWRA is also home to a Sierran amphibian species in decline (Yosemite Toad).  Securing vehicular compliance in this complex and sensitive terrain is a difficult but important challenge.

Frankly, the HTNF is being overloaded with demand and truly needs every bit of support that is available.
It even faces a Congressional 'no-fail' mandate in the following sense:  If the HTNF cannot obtain compliance with the Congressionally-specified requirements for orderly, reliably law-compliant and sustainable motorized recreation at this unique venue - if it cannot provide or implement the standards, signage, guidance, patrols, facilities and monitoring to successfully integrate high-intensity snowmobile activity into this complex multiple use formula - motorsport will suffer along with the valued resource and the users thereof.

Again, management challenges on the BWRA comprise just a fraction of the summer and winter demands that the HTNF must meet.  Therefore, I hope that you will consider funding both HTNF requests in their entirety.  [Jeff Erdoes - 3/30/10]

 Every single Law Enforcement grant should have a commitment and focus to catch the "Willfully Ignorant" visitor.  We see every day folks doing what ever they want and they feel immune  because it is their feeling "there is no one around to catch me"    That has to change.  Yes, we have Green Sticker Violations, sound violations, and other normal day to day violations that by now should be all in compliance.  It is the "Willfully Ignorant " that does not abide by the rules of the areas they ride in, i.e. "Stay on Designated Trails " "Respect Private Property"   "Know the rules of area you are riding in "  be it Forest Service, BLM, City and County.  All of us can put pressure on the "Willfully Ignorant" but it is Law Enforcement that needs to focus their talent to those that want to ruin it for everyone.  We can not let them rule our destiny or how we are being portrait in the eyes of the public and government elected officials.   
The other area of grave concern is our children, we need to make sure that all children 16 and under on Quads have the proper certification. We need to make sure that they are properly dressed to ride, no tank tops, tennis shoes and short pants.   Parents need to be told of their responsibility in the strongest possible manner, ticket.  

Thank you all for working this very difficult issue.   [Ed Waldheim "OHV activist for access to  public lands for all" - 3/28/10]

 We are opposed to providing OHV money to the USFS to close the trails!

We have paid to have the trails put in to their inventory. Now they ask for OHV money to have them closed! As we have seen in the "Route Designation" process the USFS is not a good investment for OHV funds.
Give the grants to groups that actually enhance OHV opportunity, like the BLM. [Brendan Hathaway  - 3/17/10]

 Please do not give any state money to a federal agency to close our public land to us.  I whole heartedly reject what the federal government is doing to our lands.  They are tying to kill local economies and discourage people from living free.  It appears as if they all want us to sit and a desk and enjoy the forest on a screensaver. [Casey Crandall - 3/11/10]