The US Forest Service recently released a draft rule outlining how National Forests, including the Chugach and Tongass, should manage winter motorized travel. The draft requires each national forest to designate appropriate trails and areas for winter motorized use. A forest could adopt a system of routes and areas closed to snowmachine use except where opened or a system of routes and areas open to snowmachine use unless closed. The draft also allows existing snowmachine use determinations (if originally adopted with public involvement) to remain in effect without requiring additional public participation; only public notice. The rule does not require a balance between motorized and non-motorized recreational opportunities when making designations or even acknowledge that the uses need to be separated in order for each to enjoy their winter recreational experience.
This is an opportunity to bring balance to the backcountry, address user conflict, advocate for natural quiet and minimize resource damage in our National Forests. As you may be aware, the Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition (AQRC) believes that the current allocation of trails and areas between snowmachines and quiet recreation in Chugach NF heavily and unfairly favors snowmachines. If you have similar concerns about the current allocation, do comment on this rule. It is possible that should the rule be adopted as written, CNF could decide that the current snowmachine designations already in place are sufficient to satisfy all planning requirements, and without further public comment or participation, should be incorporated as is into the revised management plan. Are you really satisfied with the status quo ?
This is a rare opportunity to help shape Forest Service policy. We don’t have a lot of time – only until August 4th – but it’s critical that the Forest Service hear from the quiet recreationists. A strong rule today means balanced management of winter recreation tomorrow. Personal comments from people who regularly use public lands are proven to make the biggest difference to decision-makers — so please take 10 minutes to weigh in on this once-in-a-generation opportunity to impact how the backcountry is managed in winter.
Winter Wildlands Alliance, the nation’s leading voice for human-powered winter recreation is leading the effort to solicit comments on the draft rule. AQRC is proud to be a partner with WWA in this effort. You can find much more information about this draft rule on their website and they’ve provided everything you need to comment.