navigating the autumn and preserving snowscapes

In rural areas in west Colorado, outdoor enjoyment is continuing to expand. Conflicts between wildlife and recreational consumers may result from this development. In order to better understand how and where people are adventuring in the winter, the volunteer Winter Wildlands Alliance is collaborating with neighborhood organizations and outside users to gather data. This information will be used to create a sensible spring travel schedule for the area. Making a winter recreation opportunity spectrum ( ROS ) map, which outlines current access and aids in identifying future usage areas, is the first step in winter travel planning. This comprehensive evaluation can identify the areas that are suitable for motorized travel, where there are sympathetic wildlife habitats, and potential conflict zones, like parking problems. We have a responsibility to balance the situation when deciding where to enable oversnow vehicles and woods access. The effect on conservation is another factor we take into account. According to Brittany Leffel, the Winter Wildlands Alliance’s Colorado Policy Coordinator, we need to consider cat biodiversity and elk.
To create a plan for winter outdoors use zones, Leffel collaborates with ski resorts, mountains guides, small companies, and recreators. Setting animals corridors and winter vacation planning both aim to reduce conflicts in multi-use outdoor areas and collisions with wildlife. Winter organizing is currently underway in both the Rio Grande and San Juan National Forests. A spring ROS is already in position for the SJNF. In 2021, the Rio Grande updated their forest program, but they did not finish their winter ROS modeling. Due to the intergovernmental area at Wolf Creek Pass, the Rio Grande National Forest will begin planning its winter travels this spring in partnership with the San Juan Natal Forest. According to Leffel, Wolf Creek Pass is a very well-liked location for snowmobilers and runners, and it is close to the San Juan maritime. Representatives from the San Juan and Rio Grande National Forests will work together to create a thorough spring travel schedule in this region due to this cross area between the two national forests.
According to John Rader, director of the public land program at San Juans Citizens Alliance,” Those two trees are currently at different stages in the planning method.” The Rio Grande and the San Juan may work together on winter vacation preparing after the ROS process is finished, with a public comment time. Rader stated that” the ultimate objective is to have a map, just like the summertime motor vehicle use maps that show what routes are available to oversnow vehicles, areas available for cross-country travel, and then places like northern trails and important wildlife habitat that are close to specific vehicles.” A crucial component of autumn planning is data collection. Leffel focuses on higher trafficked places like Lizard Head, Molas Pass, and Red Mountain Pass in order to assist in determining which people are using which areas. He does this by working with snowmobilers, northern skiers. Leffel remarked,” We’re attempting to depict what is really happening.” We’re attempting to comprehend how people use trails or the hut-to-hut technique, where they park, whether there is sufficient banners on trails, etc.
Formal planning developments are aided by this data selection. Because we are the industry professionals, we can offer advice to the Forest Service. We must provide first-hand information because the Forest Service lacks the team to visit and assess spring recreation, according to Rader. After Grand Mesa Uncompahgre and Gunnison ( GMUG) finishes its forest revision, winter planning for the San Juan National Forest itself is anticipated to begin in 2025. There are still ways for people to help with the San Juan forest’s winter planning, even though it has n’t yet begun. The main way that people can participate right nowadays is through that aspect of data collection. It’s the most practical and practical way to start the autumn travel season before it even starts, Leffel said.
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