>You CAN make a difference

>I spent some time at the BLM office in Idaho Falls this afternoon getting first hand info on where the actual boundaries are for the Stinking Springs Winter Closure. Much of Kelly Mountain outside of the ski resort is effected by this closure, however the vast majority is south facing and lacking snow coverage most of the winter; perfect for wintering animals and undesirable for winter recreationalists. This closure means NO HUMAN ENTRY within its boundaries from December 1 until May 1. The closure is designed to help the mule deer population during winter months. As discussed in more detail below, certain areas of this closure include mountain top elevations and north facing terrain containing wind deposited deep snow undesirable for mule deer habitat during the winter months. Here’s what we now know:

  • The up-track/snowshoe trail along the ridge west of Moose and all of the east facing terrain in the Moose Drainage, which includes the Baugher Special, are NOT within the closure boundary.
  • Access to the true summit of Kelly Mountain and Norm’s (Tele Hill) east of the Radio Tower which can be accessed from either skinning up Moose or from the top of Lift 4 is NOT within the closure boundary.
  • Middle Earth (between the up track and AT Hill) is NOT within the closure boundary.
  • AT Hill on the northwest end of Kelly Mountain IS within the closure boundary.

These were the main area’s that many of us were unclear about.

Now for THE IMPORTANT PART OF THE POST:

Public input on the closure boundaries will be accepted until the end of September 2010. We have a few short weeks to voice our opinion and possibly regain access to AT Hill and the terrain on the northwest side of Kelly Mountain.

This is my plea:

I feel that AT Hill is one of the greatest backcountry areas on Kelly Mountain. The position, length and angle offer the best ride I’ve experienced on Kelly Mtn. This terrain is a valuable resource for those of us who enjoy getting out of bounds to seek after soft un-tracked snow. It’s not quality like Teton Pass and most snow snobs would turn their noses up at the site of this sagebrush slalom, but it is the best 600 vertical feet Kelly Mountain has to offer!

By changing the current boundary to allow skiers and boarders access to AT Hill would only require moving the boundary a few hundred yards to the west. By doing this it would effect less than 1% of the overall closure area. The terrain in question is not ideal winter habitat for mule deer as it is high elevation, north facing, and composed mostly of deep drifted snow unsuitable for wintering deer to travel, find food, or seek shelter. Those of you who have skied this run know that it does not continue down into the thick treed forest below. The bottom end of the run and the logging road we use to escape east back to the parking lot are NOT within the boundary.

The area in question is located at the very north end of the closure zone. The boundary line does not follow any discernible topography but rather the northern edge of the BLM land as it cuts across the northwestern slope of Kelly Mountain. AT Hill is the open ridge line which makes up the eastern edge of the large north bowl on the northwest end of Kelly Mountain which is just a few hundred yards south and west of the northern most BLM boundary line. An easy solution which would provide a discernible boundary line in winter would be to use the topography of said north bowl instead of an unmarked property line in the middle of the forest.

I am asking that everyone take 5 minutes and write a letter/email to the BLM. Collectively, the voice of many will show the BLM that as a viable user group recreating on public lands we would like to regain access to this resource. Whether you have visited AT Hill in years past, or have a desire to ski this terrain in the future, your voice on the matter is critical to the future use of this area on Kelly Mountain. Even if backcountry skiing is not your thing but you like exercising your right as an American, i could really use your support. Those of you who do not live in the area, but may visit sometime in the future… your letter is just as important.

Please take the 5 minutes to write a ligit email to Shannon and share your thoughts about regaining access to this resource and why we should be allowed to recreate on our public lands and get your ski/board/snowshoe buddies to do the same. You can address your letter to:

Shannon Bassista – shannon_bassista@blm.gov

Shannon was genuinely interested in hearing from our backcountry ski/board community and needs to have comments from the public in order to make things happen.

Please Cc me deanlords@gmail.com so i can again revisit the issue with Shannon at the end of the month. Knowing the number of letters will be a valuable point of interest in my goal to have this area re-opened to human powered users. Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment for this blog post as well. Email or call me if you have any questions on this matter.

Thank You…

Dean Lords

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