The U.S. Forest Service’s refusal to revise existing restrictions on snowmobile use in the Lake Tahoe basin is one of a dozen objections filed by groups and individuals against the agency’s proposed updated land-management plan.
The objection charges that the current 25-year-old restrictions do not address the effects of additional snowmobile outfitters, permitted by the Forest Service, whose machines allegedly endanger cross-country skiers and snowshoers on popular trails and cause noise, air and water pollution.
Filed by Snowlands Network, Winter Wildlands Alliance and the Toiyabe Chapter of the Sierra Club, the objection is among 12 published Jan. 31, beginning a 90-day objection-resolution period during which the Forest Service will work with those objecting to determine whether the agency can resolve their concerns.
The updated plan for the 154,000 acres of national forest lands managed by the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit will guide management of approximately 75 percent of the land surrounding Lake Tahoe for the next 15 years.
A final environmental impact statement was released in November, following a draft EIS that drew 18,500 comments.
In addition to non-motorized vs. motorized winter recreation, the dozen lengthy objections (one is 99 pages) to the final EIS focus on forest health and fuels management practices and on the lack of new wilderness areas and scenic river designations.
A coalition of eight environmental groups charges that the plan, which allows the cutting of trees larger than 30 inches in diameter, endangers old-growth trees and wildlife habitat.
The Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District says the plan’s fire suppression tactics in roadless areas near homes, rather than leaving continuous fuels in place, should have community safety as a primary objective.
And Heavenly Mountain Resort officials ask that the plan be revised to clarify a 200-acre limitation on development, lest it encourage a development race between resorts.
The objections can be viewed at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/ltbmu/ForestPlanRevision.
“They are now in the hands of our Washington, D.C., office, who will oversee the objection process,” said Lisa Herron, a public affairs specialist with the management unit.