Forest Service warns of snowmobile patrol; cites 6 for trespass

(Inyo National Forest press release)

snomobileInyo National Forest law enforcement personnel have once again started their snowmobile patrols for the 2012 season. In a continuing effort to protect congressionally designated wilderness within the Inyo National Forest from illegal snowmobile use, law enforcement patrols will be routinely patrolling problem areas both on skis and snowmobiles and through aerial reconnaissance.  The patrols will be looking for people whose snowmobiles have strayed into “off-limit” areas of the Forest, such as designated wilderness and other areas specifically closed to snowmobiles.  Areas that will be regularly patrolled include: designated wilderness and Research Natural Areas, the Mammoth Lakes Basin, Obsidian Dome cross-country ski trails, Shady Rest cross-country ski trails and the area west of the G-trail from June Lake Junction south to the Glass Creek Hill.  Free Winter Recreation Trail maps that display where the motorized restricted areas are located can be picked up at the Mammoth Welcome Center.

 During the week of February 13, six local residents were cited for trespassing in the Owens River Headwaters Wilderness, in the area known as the Slash Pit.  Unfortunately reduced snowpack this year has led to a concentration of use in this area.   Law enforcement officials would like to thank the public for information that they have provided regarding snowmobile trespass, and they encourage anyone witnessing violations to call the Interagency Dispatch Center at 760-873-2405.  For more information, please contact Lisa Walker, Recreation Specialist, at 760-647-3031.

The nation’s federally designated wilderness areas have prohibited motorized use since the passing of the 1964 Wilderness Act, making them off limits to all motorized vehicles.  Despite these prohibitions snowmobile tracks and public reports indicate that numerous riders venture into these closed areas every winter season.  Riding in a congressionally designated wilderness or other closed area is a Federal and state offense carrying fines of up to $5,000 and/or six months in jail, in addition to possible seizure of the snowmobiles used in the commission of the crime.

 It is the rider’s responsibility to know where these closed or restricted areas are located and their boundaries.  Major winter trailheads and launching points have kiosks with maps showing the restricted areas; maps are also posted online at

If in doubt, you should check with a local Ranger Station or visitor center.

The Forest Service recognizes that in this low snowpack year that roads, trails and areas to ride snowmobiles are less available than in normal snow years. This does not, however, change the boundaries of the closed areas.   It is important that riders know where the open snowmobiling areas are located, and that they stick to these areas for their snowmobile riding.

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22 Responses to Forest Service warns of snowmobile patrol; cites 6 for trespass

  1. Big AL February 21, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    I think it is probably a fraction of the green sticker ticket sales.

  2. upthecreek February 20, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    Glad to see they finally caught these “Hard Core” criminals.

    How much of the Green sticker funds do they spend on this project every year? On so called PUBLIC Lands


  3. Rob February 20, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    How about that, look who the abusers are that are ruining it for everyone.

    They not only know better, they also actually know where these areas are.

    • Big AL February 20, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

      Who are the abusers Rob?

      • Rob February 21, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

        I was kind of suprised when I read “six local residents were cited for trespassing in the Owens River Headwaters Wilderness”.

        So I’d have to say the locals are the abusers. Wish they would have posted names & ages. Snowmobliers get a bad enough rap as it is, we sure don’t need locals I’m assuming in the know violating closed areas.

        Although I don’t agree with the closure of areas to snowmobiles I do respect the laws and stay out of these areas.

        I think forestslavers, Ken Warner and you Big Al have all made very good comments on the issue.

        • Big AL February 21, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

          LOL Well thank you Rob I try to be positive about things, and I try to point out when I see things that are not making anything positive in the situation. Right on.

  4. Trouble February 19, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    It’s kind of funny that all our politicians fight to keep the beaches open for public access, but want to close us off our public lands. Bet most of them live by a beach.

    • Tourbillon February 19, 2012 at 10:00 am #

      Access and activities to the beaches are being slowly eroded as well. Walk around Mission Bay in San Diego and the ubiquitous signs with the list of “nos” gets longer every year.

      Brick by brick the people’s supposed right to access the common lands of our country is being diminished. The only remaining commonality we share in “our” land is that while fewer and fewer get to access it, and the approved ways they may access it and personal conduct that is sanctioned on it shrink every year, everyone still must pay for it. But remorselessly eroding liberty through an endless string of well-intentioned regulations eventually erodes the citizens’ respect and allegiance for government, turning everyone into scofflaws. This perpetual resort to government coercion to impose behavior desired by a few with the time and money to pester government until it enforces their delicate sensibilities on everyone is inimical to democracy. And ultimately, to the government itself.

      • Trouble February 19, 2012 at 11:38 am #

        Tourbillion- you are correct. I was focused on the right to access they have been gaining ground on in Malibu mostly.

    • Ken Warner February 19, 2012 at 10:24 am #

      You are kind of right. You can bet that the beaches the politicians live at are restricted access. Try going to the beach in Santa Barbara.

      When Nixon was Pres. He had a house on the bluff overlooking Trestles in a gated and secured community that was built next to the bluff. That’s a famous surf spot in San Clemente, CA for all you cowboys. The Secret Service had access to that area pretty much closed off. But if you walked about 2 miles with your 10 foot long 20lb surfboard under your arm below the mean high tide line, you could get to the beach. In the mean time, all the kids who lived in the that gated community, had about a 100 yard walk.

      That’s the way beaches are closed. The beach is still public below mean high tide but you can’t get there in many places except by boat. There’s an inn in La Jolla that does some thing similar. They rope off their property down to the mean high tide line and keep “the public” off their property.

      It sucks. That’s one reason I moved away from the beach and up here — to get away from that kind of restriction. But there’s so many people on the planet, that kind of restriction is going to be more and more common everyplace. People living in their own little gated and guarded communities and everybody else on the outside looking in. Like Zardoz….

  5. forestslavers February 18, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

    What a joke the slash pits is nothing but a land fill / gravel pit from the early days of building the ski resort. Just a stones throw away up hill is the massive open air cesspool for MMI & Main Lodge. Majestic wilderness worth protecting my ass. Somebody had had the blinders on when they added it to the Owens River Headwaters Wilderness

    Maybe in the forest service wasn’t so haphazard and lazy when placing the boundary signs, and actually placed them where the boundaries are not just where it’s convenient for them to place (just off fire roads) more people would respect them.

    So for users out there, don’t go by the signs go here download the actual maps, overlay them on google earth or your pocket gps units and find out where the real boundaries are.

  6. Trouble February 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    Ken – I’m not against common sense rules, but I do believe we are slowly being shoved off of pubic lands. The beaches are the one exception to this that I can think of.
    Oh, and I luv a good bumper sticker:)

    • Ken Warner February 18, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

      You are right sensing more and more restrictions to access to various parts of public lands. And beaches are really no exception. Not that the beaches themselves are being closed. But access to them can be closed simply by building a gated community across the path to the beach.

      And there are more and more people — EVERY DAY — that want more and more access using more sophisticated means of transportation. That means more control if we want to preserve any chunk of land for just walking through or for particular activities.

      Nobody likes the idea of restricted access — I don’t. But the alternative is unrestricted access and where would that lead? I don’t know either. But just complaining about any restriction is not productive.

      As our society grows more and more complicated with more and more people with more and more sophisticated means of transportation the rules we all have to live by are going to have to become more complicated. Such is life on a small planet with 7 going on 10 billion people all wanting the same things.

      • Big AL February 19, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

        Yeah Ken, you’re right there .. I do see the need to control access, totally. If we didn’t have some sort of control, the few that can’t behave themselves, will run amok.
        But sometimes restriction is abused by those who decide what to control. We see it with the latest in public access in areas, that are not designated wilderness, closing roads in those areas, the roads already exist yet the powers to be want to close them.
        And yeah, it is not simple anymore.

  7. Ken Warner February 18, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    “…these machines are on snow not on the ground (dirt) the snow melts away, there is no trace.”

    What is the minimum amount of snow that should be the cutoff? Is there a set time of year when those machines are allowed or should all public land be open for all machines year round? If you allow snowmobiles why not motorcycles and any other sort of off road vehicle? And how much of the underlying terrain should be covered? Would 4 inches of snow be enough? What about the animals and plants that survive under the snow or prey upon those animals? Is it ok to just grind through their habitats? How many “machines” should be allowed at one time? What’s the largest machine that should be allowed? Should people be allowed to run their PistenBully’s in donuts anywhere they want any time they want? Why should we restrict the motocross track to only 2-3 weeks a year? Why not motorcycles on backcountry trails?

    It’s not so simple when (and if) you think deeper than bumper sticker slogans. Some of the people here are like children in a toy shop who cry about any restrictions on their activities and want all the toys now or they will be sad and pout.

  8. Trouble February 18, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    Wayne, as you can see I don’t like all this calling the police on people for minor things. Just one more example of the way our country is turning into a police state. Hell you make the news up here for minor infractions.

  9. J-Spoon February 18, 2012 at 12:31 am #

    Looks like tha Greeeenn Ghestapppo is out in force, they need to generate more revenue to feed their bloated salaries and pension funds….dont worry because the coming Economic Collapse will put them all in their place….

    • Wayne Deja February 18, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

      J-Spoon….OK,which one is it …….an economic collapse that is going to soon end the World?……or,as you posted on another story,Iran,nuclear bombs,and WW 3 on the horizon?…Maybe got to turn on FOX NEWS tonite to see which one is coming first.

  10. Big AL February 17, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

    One side I see, is the issue of snow mobiles in designated areas, it is the law, so you pay if you play. I don’t side with the whole idea of prohibition of snow mobiles in these areas. I think it is a case where the law does not allow for special instances, I don’t see that this usage is detrimental to a wilderness area. these machines are on snow not on the ground (dirt) the snow melts away, there is no trace.

    If these machines are going to be prohibited, then prohibit skivers, cross country skiers, snow showers, and even hikers with shoes. All of these are unnatural forms of trespass on the wilderness.

    Yeah how is that for ridiculous?

    Well so are a lot of environmental protection laws already in place, such as snow mobile prohibition.

    But … The law is the law, as it stands, and like I said, if you play you pay! You have to be responsible for knowing where you are, when out there.

    And, if you get lost, you better pray you come out of it without being the victim of an over zealous law enforcement officer who thinks you’re automatically guilty.
    But then you might be fortunate to have one who does his or hers’ job with professionalism and compassion. Even though they get burned by the people who abuse the land and the opportunity to be able to enjoy the land.

  11. Wayne Deja February 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    Bout’ time…..

  12. Trouble February 17, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

    Call 1 800 rat u out to report friendly people lost in the mountains.

    • Wayne Deja February 17, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

      Lost in the mountains?….Good excuse,but won’t hold water…Knew of a vehicle that got stuck in a Death Valley Wilderness area,claimed he was lost,and from what I heard got a HUGE fine…as well as a Holiday tow fee when the NPS said the vehicle had to be removed that day….January 1st….Happy New Year!!!!!!


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