BLM field manager Connie Clementson, left, addresses the crowd at the San Juan County Courthouse Wednesday night, March 27. Next to her is Larry Gallegos of San Juan Backcountry snowmobile tours and Jeff Christenson, recreation planner for the BLM.
The BLM decision to withdraw snowmobiling permits on nearly 1,000 acres adjacent to Molas Lake Park drew fire from residents and business owners last week during a hearing at the San Juan County Courthouse.
Some 80 people were on hand and the dozens that spoke were unanimous in criticizing the decision that removes a popular snowmobiling area that has been used for decades.
But the federal land managers, while expressing sympathy, reiterated that they can no longer allow snowmobiling in that area unless Congress takes action, since it is a designated a wilderness study area.
Jim Lokey, president of the Silverton Snowmobile Club, said he was informed by BLM officials on Dec. 13 that the club’s permit for trail-grooming in the area may not be renewed due to new regulations regarding wilderness study areas.
“At that time we were told we were going to be closed down on the east side of Molas Lake,” Lokey said. “That’s a big part of our trail system — especially for family-oriented riders. It’s one of the main areas the Silverton Snowmobile Club grooms.”
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