New use of off-snow vehicle sticker fee to improve winter recreation and reduce negative impacts to the landscape

Monday January 22, 2024

Boise, ID - While it is an exhilarating rush slicing through pristine powder, navigating open meadows or between trees, the thrill of jumping off trail and “boondocking” can damage trees, fences, and gates. Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) is actively working to keep this beloved recreation open by collaborating with snowmobilers.

“Accidental or careless activities such as running over young trees emerging out of the snow can stunt tree growth,” said Todd Wernex, IDL Recreation Program Manager. “Trees provide product for the forest industry and help fund Idaho’s public schools.”

One dollar from each Over Snow Vehicle (OSV) tag now goes to IDL to provide snowmobile opportunities and to repair impacts directly related to snowmobile use on Idaho Endowment Land. IDL, Idaho Parks and Recreation, counties, and private landowners are joining together to maintain access.

“The OSV fund allows us to build kiosks, purchase snow poles for grooming, and assist with brush clearing on trails," added Wernex. "We are also developing maps and signs to guide snowmobilers away from vulnerable areas.”

While signs and maps are being developed, snowmobilers are urged to:

• Use groomed snowmobile trails.
• If you see the tips of young trees sticking out of the snow, avoid the area.
• Stay out of tree farms or areas where it is hard to avoid running over trees or treetops.
• On rangelands be aware of fences that may or may not be taken down.
• Volunteer to assist ranchers with taking down and putting up fences.
• Report problems so IDL can address them quickly.
• Call the IDL Supervisory Area where you plan to recreate and find out if there are any newly forested areas you should avoid.

Boundary County is the first grooming program to have new kiosks that feature an information poster and a map equipped with a convenient QR code. This technology allows recreationists to easily download an up-to-date map directly to their smartphones. Popular applications like Avenza Maps can further enhance the experience by providing real-time location tracking with a distinctive blue dot.

This is part of a concerted effort by IDL, private timber companies and Boundary County to empower recreationists with the information needed to make well-informed decisions. By focusing on educating the public about responsible over snow use and providing details on groomed routes and boondocking opportunities, the partners aim to mitigate unintended damage to the valuable timber lands.

More than 96% of endowment land in Idaho is accessible by foot, watercraft, or motor vehicle, with about 2.4 million acres available for hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, or other recreation.

The Idaho Board of Land Commissioners (Land Board) policy allows the public recreational use of legally accessible endowment lands, as long as the recreational activities do not degrade the lands, interfere with management activities, or otherwise negatively affect the long-term financial return to endowment beneficiaries. About 94% of revenue from endowment land is from timber harvests.