Nevada ranger: Snowmobile crackdown promised | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada ranger: Snowmobile crackdown promised

Associated Press

RENO – The U.S. Forest Service says it appears that more snowmobilers are illegally entering the wilderness and other closed areas west of Reno, and it plans to crack down with stricter enforcement, including nighttime patrols.

A 3-year-old decision that closed much of the popular Tahoe Meadows near Mount Rose Summit to snowmobiles but left a small portion of the area open for the machines generally is working well, District Ranger Gary Schiff said on Wednesday.

But illegal forays into the backcountry continue and appear to increasingly be taking place at night, Schiff said, adding that the practice could prompt changes.

“That’s where we need to start patrolling focusing on night activity,” Schiff said. “We need to do what we can to write more tickets and send a message.”

Citing increasing conflicts between snowmobile riders and cross-country skiers, snowshoers and sledders, the Forest Service in 2001 banned snowmobiles from about three-quarters of the Tahoe Meadows.

The 4-square-mile area, also known as Sheep Flat, is off the Mount Rose Highway between Reno and Lake Tahoe and is a place of increasing popularity for people enjoying all kinds of winter sports.

But critics insist some snowmobile riders continue to travel into closed areas, including the Mount Rose Wilderness and the Galena Creek drainage, where all motorized vehicles are prohibited.

“We have some serious concerns about incursions into the wilderness,” said Shaaron Netherton, executive director of Friends of Nevada Wilderness. “It’s steadily been getting worse.”

Last summer, Netherton’s organization asked the Forest Service to close the entire Tahoe Meadows to snowmobiles and to strictly enforce rules prohibiting entry to wilderness areas.

Wayne Fischer, director of North Tahoe Snow Travelers, an organized group of snowmobilers, said he agrees that some of the few “bad apple” snowmobile riders who enter closed areas might be doing so at night.