ALERT: World Class Snowmobile Riding Area, Sonora Pass (Part 2)

SAWS Action Alert

Sonora Pass Needs Your Help! (West Hoover Travel Management Plan)

Please send your comments to the addresses below before April 15th, 2005:

      1.) Email (preferred) to 

Please note!┬á Per the instructions on the Notice of Proposed Action: ÔÇ£Comments must have an identifiable name attached or verification of identity will be required. A scanned signature may serve as verification on electronic comments.ÔÇØ

      2.)  Mail to:  District Ranger, Bridgeport Ranger District, HCR1 Box 1000   Bridgeport, CA 93517 

      3.)  Fax:  (760) 932-5899

The Forest Service has put forth a Notice of Proposed Action for the West Hoover Travel Management Plan.  Please view the entire notice at:

We need comments from those dedicated to keeping our public lands open to recreational snowmobiling.

Reviewing the original SAWS Action Alert on this issue may be helpful to those not completely familiar with the process in its present state.  The same comment points that were valid in the original Action Alert are just as valid now.

Is this a fair and reasonable compromise?

On the surface, this proposed action may seem like a win for snowmobilers, and to no small extent it is, but it does not go far enough to address the needs of snowmobilers.  The West Hoover Proposed Wilderness comprises approximately 49,000 acres.  The proposed action would allow over snow vehicle use on approximately 7,000 acres at the northern end of the area in question.  That is less than 15% of the West Hoover Proposed Wilderness.  Without question, 15% is better than nothing, but can this honestly be considered a plan that we are to view as fair and reasonable?

It is most important to remember that this area is NOT wilderness.  The areas surrounding the West Hoover PROPOSED wilderness are already federally protected lands.  The Hoover wilderness to the east, the Emigrant wilderness to the west, and Yosemite National Park to the south, all border the West Hoover area.  The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest already contains over 1.25 million acres of existing designated wilderness (, which is more than enough wilderness for the limited number of people seeking non-motorized recreation in current wilderness areas of this forest. Per the Forest Service National Visitor Use Monitoring (NVUM) study for the HTNF (, only about 12% of the HTNF visitors recreate in current wilderness areas, and the vast majority of this use is during the warmer summer and early fall months.  The boundaries of these existing wilderness areas are just that.  The lines have already been drawn.  What need is there for any additional buffer area between non-wilderness areas and already designated wilderness, with the result being that the buffer area would be treated as de-facto wilderness?       

Make no mistake, we should all sincerely appreciate the fact that the Forest Service has taken up the issue of providing snowmobile access to the West Hoover area and given us the opportunity for public comment.  The hard work of Forest Service personnel and many individuals within the groups that represent motorized recreationists, made this process a reality.  What we need to do now is take a stand on the issue.  By initiating this change in the travel plan, The Forest Service has demonstrated that they now realize excluding over snow vehicle use in an area where the use causes no harm was an error in policy.  It is also an error in policy to impose and enforce artificial and arbitrary boundaries located well outside existing wilderness areas.

We at SAWS support no new wilderness.  We believe that the 106 million acres of wilderness in the United States, and a little closer to this proposal, 14 million acres of existing wilderness in California, is plenty.  Supporting the Notice of Proposed Action in its present form would be supporting de facto wilderness in the 42,000 acres of the West Hoover area not opened to over snow vehicles.  We encourage our members to write a letter in support of opening the entire West Hoover area to over snow vehicles.

If we are ultimately better served by compromise of some sort on this issue, it would not be unreasonable to expect considerably more than 7,000 of 49,000 acres.┬á There are any number of alternatives that have been suggested to the Forest Service as a more fair and reasonable way to manage this area in respect to over snow vehicle travel.┬á If there are legitimate reasons that snowmobiling isnÔÇÖt appropriate in some portion of the West Hoover area, then let those specific areas be judged fairly so that reasonable solutions can be implemented.┬á Creating a 42,000-acre buffer between the West Hoover area and the adjacent protected lands is, to say the least, overkill.

One does not show up at the bargaining table to accept the least they can reasonably expect to get.  That is what we are being offered right now.  Will you accept it, or will you take a stand? 


Johny Welch
CA/NV SAWS Representative
Snowmobile Alliance of Western States

Copyright┬® 2005 Snowmobile Alliance of Western States. All Rights Reserved.┬á Permission is granted to┬ádistribute this information in whole or in part, as long as Snowmobile Alliance of Western States (SAWS) is acknowledged as the source.┬á If you┬áare not yet a member of SAWS and you would like to receive these alerts, please sign up on our web site at: ┬á