(Jackson, Wyo.) - With early season snowpack on the Bridger-Teton National Forest being sparse in many of the lower elevations, the Forest is asking snowmobilers to shift their activities to locations with adequate snow coverage, within permitted snowmobile areas. Snowmobile operators should avoid bare dirt and patchy snow and should not ride across streams or over small trees or brush. Operating snowmobiles on too little snow creates ruts in the soil and crushes vegetation. “We are asking snowmobilers for voluntary cooperation in moving their activities to suitable locations,” said Blackrock District Ranger Todd Stiles. “Riding snowmobiles on too little snow not only causes resource damage, but can damage the machine as well.” The Forest Service is also warning all snow travelers of the dangers in riding, hiking and skiing on frozen water bodies. Riders must also be aware that moose, elk, and bison may be on the trails. Operators must maintain control of their snowmobile while riding; keep to the right at all times on trails, and are encouraged to wear helmets when operating the machine. Wyoming law requires that all snowmobiles have either a resident or nonresident user fee decal adhered to the machine. The trails have two-way traffic, so riders must be aware of oncoming traffic and keep to the right. No drinking and driving is permitted. Adequate snow depth is just one of the considerations Forest users should take into account before venturing out onto the Forest. Being prepared for sudden weather changes or emergencies is also an important part of winter recreation. “Many visitors practice responsible snowmobiling by trying to minimize resource damage in low snow depth conditions,” said Stiles. “Please do your best to minimize your effect on vegetation, soil and waterways during these conditions, and please be prepared to self-rescue when heading out onto the Forest.” Officials encourage winter sports enthusiasts to pack a flashlight, cell phone, food and extra warm clothing in case of an emergency. Limited cell phone coverage provides unreliable service on many backcountry settings so it is important to let others know your itinerary. Current avalanche and weather conditions can be obtained by visiting the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center at http://www.jhavalanche.org . Causing resource damage can result in a citation punishable by a fine of $5000 or more and/or six months in jail. The Bridger-Teton will continue to monitor areas throughout the Forest for compliance to protect natural resources. Information on areas where snowmobiles are allowed is available online at *http://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/btnf/recreation/wintersports/?recid=71389&actid=92*
or by calling the Bridger-Teton at 307-739-5500.
Feature Photo: h/t Carolina K. Smith MD via Shutterstock / Pitchengine