Forest Service winter closures coming Friday

Staff report

Winter vehicle restrictions for the White River National Forest will go into effect Friday and continue until May 20, 2019, the Forest Service announced Tuesday.

Snow accumulation before Friday may result in gate closures at higher elevations, the Forest Service said in a press release.

During the winter season, all wheeled vehicles, including bikes, are limited to plowed routes or on routes open through special orders.

Fat-tire biking is only allowed on plowed routes during the winter, as is stipulated in the White River National Forest 2011 Travel Management Plan. The Forest Service said it is working with local recreational groups to develop a proposal for winter fat tire bike trails, but that effort hasn’t led to any change to the winter route plans.

The Forest Service asks that visitors to the forest adhere to the use maps, available online at the White River website or at National Forest offices. The winter use restrictions are designed for safety of visitors, to protect vegetation under the snow and preserve winter wildlife habitats.

Over-the-snow vehicles, such as snowmobiles, will be allowed on designated routes. Some private snowmobile organizations have agreements to groom certain roads, and the Forest Service asks other visitors to abide by signage to protect the private investment and volunteer efforts.

The Vail Pass Winter Recreation area has been open since Nov. 8, but the Forest Service will begin charging a fee Saturday to cover the cost of grooming the area. A season pass is available for purchase at the Eagle-Holy Cross and Dillon Ranger District offices for $40.

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