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News briefs

Staff report

White River National Forest winter travel season underway

The White River National Forest's winter motor-vehicle-use season began this week and ends May 20.

The Vail Pass area switched to winter-use "over the snow" vehicles Nov. 15. During the winter season, all wheeled vehicles (including bikes) are limited to plowed routes, to routes designated as open or by a permit specific to the activity. Routes and areas open to motorized winter travel are identified in the Forest's winter motor vehicle use maps. These maps are free and available at all ranger districts and online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/whiteriver/home/?cid=stelprdb5328680.

Mountain biking is allowed on plowed roads open to wheeled vehicles. Currently no winter trails in the White River National Forest are open to mountain bikes, including fat-tire bikes. Trails are closed to bikes during the winter season primarily to provide suitable winter habitat for wildlife, reduce soil erosion during the mud seasons and reduce potential user conflicts.

The White River National Forest acknowledges that technology has changed to give mountain bikes greater capability to operate on packed snow since the 2011 Travel Management Plan was finalized. The White River National Forest is currently working with local International Mountain Biking Association representatives who will lead and coordinate a public process to develop a proposal of winter routes that would be open to fat-tire snow biking. The proposal will be based on current winter routes that are groomed and under permit. The International Mountain Biking Association is encouraging users to work with their local biking organizations and representatives of the bike association to better understand the process, what routes can be considered and the associations potential timeline. A full public-input period and environmental review will be part of the project proposal.

Until then, forest users are asked to obtain and adhere to the winter motor vehicle use maps and special orders in accordance with the 2011 Travel Management Plan decision. Excluding winter wildlife closure areas, many communities and adjacent Bureau of Land Management lands currently have designated routes open to mountain biking during the winter.

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For more information, contact the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District at 970-925-3445.

Art show opens Wednesday at Aspen Chapel Art Gallery

On Wednesday, The Aspen Chapel Art Gallery will present "Small Wonders: A Holiday Show of Affordable Art No Larger Than 12" x 12."" The exhibit features 30 local artists and was curated by Ada Christensen. This show has become an annual tradition for the gallery. The opening reception with the artists is Wednesday, from 5 to 7 p.m. The show runs through Jan. 2. More information at http://www.aspenchapelgallery.com.

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