Club Update by Bob Smith – TTF Board Member
At the writing of this December newsletter we are anxiously awaiting that beautiful white stuff… Snow. December 1st marks the official opening day of snowmobiling when over the dirt with tires ends and over the snow with tracks begins. Many of us at the TTF (Tollgate Trail Finders) have new sleds to break in and others have our oldies but goodies polished up and ready to hit the trails and back country.
Besides snowmobiles, our club embraces UTV’s (Utility Terrain Vehicle’s) commonly known as side x sides and ATV’s (All Terrain Vehicle’s) with tracks for over the snow recreation. At our November club meeting Jess Thompson, our grooming chairman, indicated that side x sides with tracks didn’t seem to tear up the groomed trails any worse than snowmobiles. Many of our members are reaching an age where an enclosed over the snow vehicle with a heater is a great way to see and experience the beauty of our National Forest. Our younger folks like them because they’re just plain fun.
Also at our last meeting the club voted to work toward becoming a club that supports year around “Safe and Sane” UTV/ ATV recreational riding activities. It will take much work on behalf of our Board of Directors and Officers to amend the club by-laws to support those changes. It will probably take additional trail marking to show which trails are allowable and legal to ride on. It’s the wish of our club to reach out to new UTV/ATV sports enthusiasts to become members of our TTF family and to grow our club to be a truly year around recreational club. It won’t be an easy undertaking because we will need to petition the Forest Service to embrace the idea of allowing UTV/ATV’s on the Forest Service Roads. Currently, most of the roads are off limits to Sport Utility Vehicle use.
On Saturday, December 2nd we will hold our monthly club meeting at 5:00 pm. At that meeting representatives from the USFS (United States Forest Service) will be in attendance to speak with us about regulations regarding UTV use and to receive our input on over the snow vehicle use. As time goes on there are more and more UTV’s with tracks on the mountain. From what we know right now, the current regulations allow a maximum overall width of 62” and most of the newer side x sides with tracks are much wider than that. The regulations need to reflect what is actually available in the UTV world and this is our opportunity to express our views to the Forest Service. It is also our wish to petition the Forest Service to allow more open access to UTVs on the Forest Service roads after the snow melts. We encourage all who have an interest in seeing the mountain open up to more UTV access to attend our club meeting Saturday, December 2nd at 5:00 pm. As an active snowmobile club we have an opportunity to meet with the Forest Service and express our views. This won’t happen without lots of input and change comes slowly but this is a start. The larger our club is, the stronger the voice that we have with the Forest Service.
As we begin another season of enjoying the wonder that abounds us in the Blue Mountains, we are reminded of being respectful to others. One way of doing this is to stay on the marked trails while riding on private property. Our lower country trails utilize access rights granted by numerous property owners. These property owners have been gracious enough to allow snowmobilers to ride on their property. When we stick to the marked trails this relationship thrives. When someone rides out of bounds and decides to carve untracked powder in a beautiful meadow or in the trees, this is disrespectful and needs to stop. It’s tempting to veer off and play in the powder when riding on private property. The problem is this jeopardizes our future access. Please refrain from doing this until you have accessed public land. We have trail maps available at the TTF Clubhouse that you can refer to in the future if you are unsure. Our rule is “when in doubt, stay out.”