Feb 17, 2015

New winter travel regulations to have limited effect in Big Horns

The U.S. Forest Service’s recently released rule governing winter travel in national forests will have little effect in Bighorn National Forest, forest managers say.

The rule, released in late January, said national forests must designate routes and areas where over-snow vehicle use is allowed. Bighorn Forest Supervisor Bill Bass said he expects the Big Horn’s current designations to be in compliance with the rule.

Bighorn National Forest offers 391 miles of snowmobile trails including 342 miles of groomed and 49 miles of un-groomed trails. With a few exceptions, most of Bighorn National Forest is open to snowmobiles, as long as there’s enough snow to prevent damage to the land.

Snowmobile use is restricted seasonally or year-round in the Cloud Peak Wilderness, downhill and cross-country ski areas, research natural areas, the Rock Creek area, wildlife winter range, recommended wild and scenic river corridors and the area around the Medicine Wheel/Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark.    

Most, if not all, Bighorn’s designations were made in the revised forest plan approved in 2005. Bass doesn’t anticipate changes in areas that are open now, but managers will know more after the evaluation.

“We’ll evaluate the areas open to snowmobiles to determine if we’re in compliance with the rule,” he said in a statement.

For more information about winter travel in the Bighorns, contact the ranger district office in Lovell at 307-548-6541.


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