Compromise on Mt. Rose snowmobiles
RENO, Nev. (AP) – Snowmobiles will be banned at most of a popular meadow near Lake Tahoe in a compromise that seeks to balance the competing interests of snowmobilers and cross-country skiers and snowshoers.
The partial ban is included in the Northern Sierra Amendment, released Tuesday, May 29 by the U.S. Forest Service. The document outlines how national forest lands in the eastern Sierra should be managed.
Under the amendment, snowmobiles will be prohibited at Tahoe Meadows on the south side of the Mount Rose Highway. Snowmobilers will have limited access on the north side of the highway to a hilly area farther north.
“This is a difficult situation because I don’t know if there are right or wrong answers here. It largely depends on your point of view,” said Gary Schiff, chief ranger for the Carson Ranger District. “We tried to separate the uses as best we could and still allow for some small bit of snowmobiling.”
Both sides in the dispute say the decision is better than nothing and concede neither group got everything they wanted.
“We’re happy with the south-side closure, but we’re disappointed there’s not a complete closure,” said Gail Ferrell, the Reno resident who led an organized effort to persuade the Forest Service to close the entire four-square-mile-area of meadows to snowmobiles.
Greg McKay of the Mount Rose Snowmobile Alliance, a group formed to defend their sport and access to the meadows, characterized the decision as “better than nothing.”
“It was a compromise. Of course our group had to compromise the most,” McKay said.
The proposal also would require a minimum snow depth of 12 inches to operate snowmobiles anywhere, except on established roads within the Carson Ranger District. Schiff said that measure was aimed at minimizing damage to the land and bring regulations for the area more in line with those of surrounding national forests.
Ferrell and other critics insist snowmobiles are polluting, incompatible with quieter winter sports and dangerous.
Snowmobilers respond they have been pushed out of too much public land already and there is no reason people who enjoy the different sports can’t coexist.
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The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) is addressing the threats of climate change by hosting a webinar on Friday, March 5, on the region’s greenhouse gas emissions.