The original thread was pulled last Friday at RSMiller's request. The thread, started as a mere meeting announcement, was turning into a heated debate over snowmobiles in the backcountry. This was not Ryan's intention with his original post. I attempted to respond to the post before it was deleted, but I was working away from the office and was booted from my wireless connection before I could post. The newly forming NFR Chapter of BSA does not hope to reduce anyone's access to backcountry areas, but to engage in a proactive discussion with the Forest Service and other user groups to ensure that the human-powered user group is able to pursue a positive recreational experience in the Cameron Pass area.
I would like to address questions that came up in the original thread:
BSA is not and has never been a proponent of reducing lands legally accessible by snowmachines without just cause. That being said, more than 90% of the public, non-wilderness land in the western United States is currently open for cross country snowmachine travel. The non-wilderness portion of that statement is key, as the vast majority of current wilderness is inaccessible to the day skier due to distance between trailhead and wilderness boundary. I do want to make clear that the argument that backcountry skiers, snowboarders, and snowshoers have enough wilderness land to visit without snowmachines is erroneous. BSA, along with motorized groups has pursued limited snowmobile access only in areas where separate use makes sense, including Wolf Creek Pass and Rabbit Ears Pass.
Brendodendo and Waterwindpowderrock, BSA does currently have a strong working relationship with the Colorado Snowmobile Association in areas throughout the state. While tense at times, CSA and BSA do work together, when possible, to reach consensus-based decisions on land management. The majority of snowmachiners illegally accessing non-motorized lands are "rogue" non-club members ("rogue" is a CSA term). It is often difficult to reach these riders. BSA and CSA have partnered with local outfitters, 10th Mountain Hut Association, and Colorado Mountain Club at Vail Pass for over 15 years to work on issues in the area. Through this work, Vail Pass has turned from a conflict-riddled boxing ring to a workable compromise for all users (although we still have work to do). Developing a relationship between our potential new chapter and the local snowmobile club could lead to positive outcomes for both groups.
With the new Northern Front Range Chapter, Ryan and the leadership are not setting out to "create new wilderness." This group hopes to engage the Forest Service early on and promote the value of human-powered recreation interests on the Roosevelt National Forest. We hope that through this approach, we can avoid the situation that threatened Vail Pass in the late 1980s/early 1990s and currently threatens Red Mountain Pass. Snowmobiles are illegally riding in the Cameron Pass area and this must be addressed.
Brendodendo, the National Forest Service was created to manage our open lands for many uses. What you don't mention is the fact that the agency was created and is directed to manage for a diversity of uses, as long as those uses do not impede upon the use of the forest by other user groups. In this light, we don't work to exclude snowmachines from OUR (yours and mine) forests, we promote a separation of uses where appropriate to allow every user a positive experience during which their group's safety is in their own hands, not those of other users.
Additionally, as I mentioned above, the acreage of non-motorized, non-wilderness lands in the western United States is outnumbered by more than 100:1 by motorized lands. With human-powered users comprising more than 60 percent of annual forest visits in the west, this division of land might not make sense. Greatest good, after all...
Violence is never the productive response to these issues, for any user group. I apologize for the actions of those individuals that have spit, sworn, threatened, or assaulted other users. We NEVER promote confrontations between forest visitors like you have described. BSA promotes backcountry ethics and safety for ALL users.
Finally, Brendodendo, I am certainly not jealous of you "getting more pow than me." Different strokes for different folks. You enjoy chasing powder your way. I enjoy mine. I certainly get my fair share of face shots each year.
I don't want to say that either is right or wrong; they just don't work together in most cases.
I hope that I have addressed your concerns appropriately. If you would like to discuss our work further, please call my office at 303-494-5266.
Backcountry Snowsports Alliance
Fort Collins, Colorado