Plenty of White River terrain open to sleds |

Plenty of White River terrain open to sleds

Aspen Times Staff Report
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Snowmobilers will have tens of thousands of acres open to them in the Aspen area even if an existing closure along Richmond Ridge is enforced, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

A document called a final draft travel management plan is being reviewed by the Forest Service and likely will be completed next year. The plan determines where people can hike, bike and drive in the 2.3 million acre White River National Forest, one of the most highly visited in the country.

The plan’s preferred alternative upholds a decision to prohibit snowmobiles from traveling off Pitkin County roads on the back of Aspen Mountain. The use of snowmobiles by backcountry skiers to allow them to make more laps in the powder has been a contentious issue for years.

Even if acreage is lost there, plenty of opportunities exist for snowmobiling, said Tim Lamb, a forest ranger focused on dispersed recreation issues.

He estimated that 700,000 acres would be open to snowmobiling throughout the sprawling forest, which stretches from Rifle to Summit County and from south of Aspen to north of Glenwood Springs. He estimated that 100,000 acres would be open in the Aspen-Sopris District alone. (An earlier story conveyed that a smaller acreage would be open to snowmobiles in the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District.)

Lamb said open travel, which allows snowmobiles to go off established roads, will be allowed under the preferred alternative in areas such as Basalt Mountain, Kobey Park, Four Mile Park, Hay Park and Lime Park, although restrictions still exist in parts of those areas.

The Forest Service intends to hold public open houses Saturday, Dec. 13 in Aspen and El Jebel to help forest users understand the plan.

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