Paper company closes Washington, Idaho forest land to snowmobiles

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Snowmobilers will have fewer places to ride in eastern Washington and northern Idaho this year, as the Inland Empire Paper Company has closed its lands on the 116,000 acres of forest the company manages to snowmobilers.

The company decided to close its land to sledders after years of trying to curtail damage snowmobilers have done on the commercial timber lands, Paul Buckland, forest resource manager, told the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

Snowmobilers are banned from 38 miles of trails previously groomed on IEP land on Mount Spokane, says Angela Simmons of Spokane County Parks and Recreation Department, which manages the grooming.

Forty miles of trails in the state park will be groomed starting Dec. 1, she says.

“The issue is enforcement,” Buckland told the newspaper. “Snowmobilers who stay on the groomed trails are no problem. It’s the rogue snowmobilers going off-trail and running over small trees.

“They consider recent harvest areas to be play areas and they don’t realize they’re running over the tops of plantation trees in the snow. That causes the tree to form a second top, which greatly reduces the tree’s economic value.”

Posted by Holly Wagner