Tue, Feb 22, 2005
Forest Service Takes To The Air, Catching Wilderness
From the Tahoe Tribune comes a story
of airborne law enforcement. The law in question: the designation
of large tracts of land in the Western US as "wilderness areas;"
and the lawbreakers: snowmobilers, to whom the law applies just as
much as to motorcyclists and off-road truck drivers. Indeed, it
even applies to the Forest Service itself: "We're not allowed to
ride snowmobiles into wilderness areas, either," Anthony Botello,
resource management officer at El Dorado National Forest, told the
So how do they enforce the law, if they can't use the tool that
the violators are using? "[W]e do pretty regularly put a plane up.
We look (for tracks) at boundaries but sometimes they are hard to
see." The plane the Forest Service uses has a GPS navigation system
to keep track of the boundaries of all the wildernesses that the
National Forest manages: Mokelumne Wilderness, Desolation
Wilderness, Meiss Meadows, Freel Peak and Loon Lake. All motor
vehicles are strictly prohibited.
The two snowmobilers were ticketed on Deadwood Peak by
ground-based (and presumably unmotorized) Forest Rangers who were
guided to an intercept position by the plane. The Sacramento men
now have a date with court; they could be fined or even jailed for
up to six months.
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