Our Voice Was Heard: Over-Snow Vehicle Rule Announced

by CMC Conservation Manager Julie Mach

The U.S. Forest Service announced Jan. 28 the long-awaited Over-Snow Vehicle (OSV) Rule, which now requires designation of roads, trails and areas where OSV use is allowed (snowmobiles and other motorized vehicles with tracks and/or skis). Local forests and districts that do not have winter travel designations in place (many areas in Colorado) will be assessing the landscapes and developing OSV use maps in the near future. Once the maps are published, OSV travel outside of those designated areas will be prohibited.

We want to thank all of our supporters who helped bring stronger language to the final rule by commenting this summer! The agency received over 20,000 letters and specifically addressed comments regarding the backcountry hut system in Colorado. The final rule and response to comments is available online here.

CMC’s Backcountry Snowsports Initiative (BSI) was pleased to see positive changes in the final rule, but now the real work begins. With the national framework in place, winter travel planning now transitions to a local process where land managers will be gathering input and deciding which trails, skin tracks, ridgelines, powder bowls, tree runs, habitat areas and watersheds will be open or closed to OSV use. We need local backcountry experts like you to weigh in on which areas need protection, where conflicts are occurring and how best to manage recreational uses on Colorado’s winter landscapes.

In the coming months, BSI will be working to gather info on existing winter recreation and we need your help!

  • Where are current winter travel designations in place already? (White River NF, Rabbit Ears Pass, Cumbres Pass, etc.)  Are they appropriate?  Are they enforced well?
  • What areas/trails do you want to see protected?
  • Where are you seeing major conflict areas with OSV use?
  • What areas are appropriate for OSV and multi-use?
  • What areas have established OSV use that is well managed?

Email us your comments and look for a series of surveys this spring. Thank you for your participation in this groundbreaking work which will influence winter recreation in Colorado for years to come. For more about BSI and how to support our work, visit www.cmc.org/BSI.

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