No Trespassing: Backcountry bad vibes in the Rockies

Backcountry skiers in Telluride face new permits.

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Thanks to Seth Masia of the International Ski History Association for a heads up on a story in the Telluride (Colorado) Watch newspaper entitled “Public Lands Access For Backcountry Skiing Debated Elsewhere.”

It’s a cautionary read for skiers in parts of the backcountry ski world where getting to the best skiing often means short treks across private lands. It’s also is a read that makes you glad you live and backcountry ski in Oregon.

Here are the opening paragraphs of a long and detailed, must-read story if you’re a backcountry skier.

“In what could be called a victory for private land rights over public lands access, the U.S. Forest Service announced last week it would close backcountry access points into Upper Bear Creek at the request of private landowners whose holdings abut public land. The announcement generated a torrent of criticism from many in the Telluride community, from environmental activists to backcountry skiers who have long considered Telluride’s Bear Creek to be a local icon and public access to it sacrosanct.

While specific to Telluride and its Bear Creek backcountry, the uproar currently raging amid Telluride’s citizenry is similar to heated conversations erupting in backcountry ski havens elsewhere. Those conversations, while unique to their location and specific political climate, nonetheless relate to one common question: How public are public lands?
Parallel debates rage across the ski industry, in Utah and Wyoming. Last month a group of close to a dozen landowners whose properties are located within the Cardiff Bowl area of Big Cottonwood Canyon, near Snowbird and Alta ski resorts in Utah, sent a petition to Intermountain Forest Service Supervisor Harv Forsgren requesting the federal agency to require permits for all backcountry users of the Tri-Canyon area of Big Cottonwood Canyon, Millcreek Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon.”

This is an issue that could change the sport of backcountry skiing and one to keep up on for skiers who have enjoyed skiing the Utah, Colorado and Wyoming backcountry.

 

Photo by Bob Woodward.


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