Sheridan, Wyo. (December 2, 2013) – Bighorn National Forest law enforcement officers and managers would like to remind everyone of some important rules and tips for safe winter recreation in the forest.
Forest regulations require that off-road snowmobile travel is allowed only when there are more than six inches of snow. This snow depth protects your machine as well as the natural features of the land. People caught snowmobiling off-road and damaging soil or exposed vegetation are subject to citations.
Not all areas of the national forest are open to snowmobiles. The Cloud Peak Wilderness, downhill ski areas, cross-country ski trails, and wildlife area closures are off limits to snowmobiles.
Wyoming law requires that all snowmobiles must have either a current Wyoming Resident or Nonresident user fee decal prominently displayed on the outside of each snowmobile. The $25 decal is available at many locations throughout the state.
A little forethought and preparation go a long way to ensuring a safe and enjoyable winter experience in the outdoors.
Be prepared for the worst by carrying extra food and water, warm, dry clothing, and making sure your vehicle is equipped for winter travel
Check the weather forecast and road conditions
Be aware of your surroundings
Snowmobilers, snowshoers, and skiers should carry an avalanche beacon, a shovel, and a probing pole
Carry a GPS unit and a map
Don’t ride, ski, or snowshoe alone
Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return
Many areas of the forest are outside of cell phone coverage, so don’t rely on a cell phone for communication
If visibility is poor, don’t go. If visibility deteriorates, stay put until conditions improve, or proceed with extra caution.
“Whether your interest is snowmobiling, skiing, or just enjoying the quiet beauty of the forest, we think the Bighorn National Forest is a special place in the winter,” added McKee.
Snowmobilers are encouraged to contact the Forest Service to find out what areas are open to snowmobiles. Maps showing snowmobile trails and closed areas are available at Bighorn National Forest offices in Buffalo, Lovell, and Sheridan. The Forest Service can also provide the latest road and travel conditions on the forest.
Information about snowmobile registration can be found at the Wyoming Trails website at http://wyotrails.state.wy.us/Snow/Index.aspx. Avalanche awareness information is available from http://www.fsavalanche.org/. Information about Wyoming road conditions can be found at WYDOT’s website http://www.wyoroad.info/. Visit the National Weather Service at http://www.crh.noaa.gov/riw/ for Wyoming weather forecasts.