The Oregon State Snowmobile Association (OSSA) recently negotiated a revised winter use plan for the Dutchman Flat area of the Deschutes National Forest. The changes for this area were announced Oct. 12 by the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District as a "tweak" of the plan previously announced on April 30 that would have closed most of the area to snowmobiles.
Under the new plan, a 23-acre play area for snowmobilers will be created on the south end of the flat north of Highway 46 and west of Trail 7. The previously announced plan would have restricted snowmobiles to a 100-foot wide corridor across the entire flat. The new plan will also separate the designated trails for snowmobilers and non-motorized recreationists immediately as they leave the Dutchman Sno-Park. Cross-country skiers will be prohibited on the groomed snowmobile trail across Dutchman Flat (Trail 7), although dog sleds and skijoring will continue to be allowed on the snowmobile trail. The groomed snowmobile and cross-country ski trails on the Cascade Lakes Highway (Trail 5) will also be divided by a berm to separate uses.
While the west face of Tumalo Mountain will remain closed to snowmobiles, a new route will be marked to access the southeast face of the mountain. The northwest face of the mountain will remain open as in the past to exploration without marked routes.
Both motorized and non-motorized users may be cited for violations of the new rules. Boundaries of the new use areas will be signed on-the-ground and new maps will be available on-site and at warming shelters in the area.
The Forest Service also announced that they will proceed with planning for a new sno-park at Kapka Butte and for a new snowmobile trail from Trail 4 south of the Mount Bachelor Ski Area to Elk Lake.
OSSA contracted with Trails Work Consulting, according to OSSA President John Bastian of John Day, to help them negotiate for this revised management plan.
"We are extremely pleased that the Forest Service reconsidered their April decision and accepted our proposal," Bastian said. "Having this play area close to the sno-park is very important to our association since it will be beneficial to all family members. Safety is our number one concern and these changes will definitely improve safety in the area."
For additional information, contact OSSA Administrative Coordinator Peggy Spieger at 888-567-7669.