BAKER CITY - Low snow levels throughout the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest have snowmobile riders seeking the high country. According to Rob Gump, Eagle Cap Wilderness Manager, some of the snowmobile use has resulted in excursions into the Eagle Cap Wilderness, which is an illegal activity.
"Snowmobile riders need to be aware of where the Eagle Cap Wilderness boundary is," Gump said. "Our winter patrols have discovered an increase in the number of snowmobile users crossing into the wilderness."
"This winter we have cited individuals for riding in the Eagle Cap Wilderness," Gump said.
According to Randy James, Wallowa County Snowmobile Club president, "A responsible rider is aware of where they are riding and respects the land and its boundaries."
With the sporadic spring-type weather, the high country area in the Wallowas is very inviting to snowmobile riding. To avoid snowmobiling into the Wilderness, the Forest Service is encouraging riders to use Sno Park facilities like Salt Creek Summit, which offers thousands of acres of great snowmobile riding outside of the wilderness.
Snowmobile riders that choose to seek the high country need to obtain and use a current map showing where the wilderness boundary is located. Not all boundary locations are marked, so riders need to be aware of where they are. Maps and information can be obtained from the Wallowa Mountain Visitor Center in Enterprise.
"Snowmobile riders can expect to see an increased presence by the Forest Service," said Eagle Cap District Ranger Kendall Clark. "Our patrolling efforts will assist riders to become familiar with boundary location, provide better understanding of non-motorized use, and assure compliance with the regulation of maintaining the wilderness free from motorized use."