Anyone who has skied or toured on Togwotee Pass knows how popular an area it is for winter recreation. While we all have ‘rights’ to access our different ‘playgrounds’, it is important to respect area closures and wilderness boundaries so that everyone can enjoy the backcountry experience they seek. Unfortunately, evidence of snowmobilers ignoring such boundaries is obvious when visiting areas like Breccia Peak and it is important to not let this blatant disrespect get out of control. I have nothing against snowmobiles or snowcats (hell, I wish I owned one sometimes), but we must all respect the boundaries that have been put in place.
Recently, a group of individuals from the surrounding communities have started The Togwotee Pass Backcounty Alliance in an effort to work with the Forest Service to set aside specific, non-motorized use areas.
“Togwotee Pass Backcountry Alliance mission is to create a shared space of balanced recreational use free of conflict, envisioning future development to maintain pristine backcountry for all. Non-motorized recreational user groups include nordic and backcountry skiers, snowboarders, and snowshoers who frequent Togwotee Pass on both the Bridger-Teton and Shoshone National forests.”
“We feel that certain areas north of Highway 287 on Togwotee Pass, including Angle Mountain, Buffalo Fork Peak, Breccia Peak, and Brooks Mountain should be designated as “Backcountry Non-motorized” areas according the BTNF Winter Recreation Settings. Pristine values in other areas, including Lava Mountain, Two Ocean Mountain, and Pinnacle Butte, also are greatly threatened. We would like to work toward easing motorized impacts in these areas as well.”
“For over fifty years skiers have been touring and turning on Togwotee Pass. Recently, we have come together for a common goal: the preservation of backcountry skiing on Togwotee Pass. Motorized use, including snowmobiles and snowcats, near Togwotee Pass has reached a level that conflicts with our values of quiet, solitude, and pristine air and snow. These values were once available at Togwotee, but now are greatly threatened. Our purpose is to gain federal designation of lands on Togwotee Pass exclusively for skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers, and others who enjoy the quiet and serenity of non-motorized winter backcountry experiences.”
Togwotee Pass Backcountry Alliance promotes :
-A safe experience free from conflict
-A recreational opportunity on National Forest lands
-A backcountry experience free of noise and air pollution
-Initiate a collaborative process between motorized and non-motorized users
-Correspond with the Forest Service about the upcoming Forest Service Plan that affects all users.
In the next couple weeks, the Forest Service will be holding meetings where the public can comment on such activities. Future meetings about possible revisions will be held in March, contact the Bridger Teton Forest Service is you have any questions. Please, if you value a peaceful backcountry experience on Togwotee Pass, voice your opinion and try to attend one of these meetings. Thanks!
Meetings for the Shoshone National Forest (Meetings times 6:00-8pm):
February 20, 2007-Dubois (Headwaters)
February 21, 2007-Lander (Pronghorn Lodge)
February 26, 2007-Cody (Big Horn Federal)
February 27, 2007-Thermopolis (Holiday Inn)