Forest Service short-course

              It is apparent when snowmobilers gather together that their frustration with the Forest Service is at an all time high. I share the frustration but I think it is important to find out what is driving the bad decisions. Our problem is not with the people in the Forest Service, it is with the laws and politics that got them into this unworkable position.  In the modern-day Forest Service it is next to impossible to get anything done, not because the agency’s people are incompetent or lazy, but because the work environment they operate in assures conflict and failure.  Once upon a time long, long ago, the Forest Service actually made decisions in a reasonable time frame and in a relatively uncomplicated way

But this is not the case today.  Nothing is simple, easy or quick.  In fact, few goods and services now come from the forests. The problem lies in the framework in which the Forest Service personnel must work.  Politics is injected into the most basic decisions from the top down, controlled by the  administration.  Every decision is appealed or litigated by opposing interest groups, meaning that federal judges who could not tell a Douglas fir from a mink fur now make major land management decisions.  Every action is second-guessed by other agencies.  Land managers find themselves subject to threats and hung out to dry if they do not make the “right” decision.

So what got us to this sad state of affairs?   Where once there was one law directing the activities of the National Forest System now there are many.  For 64 years, under the prime directive of The Organic Act the Forest Service managed amazingly well.  In 1960, Congress decided to tighten the cinch a bit and passed the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act. While still fairly straight forward, this change upset the agency’s comfortable and steady course.  Congress had also flexed its land management muscles, and it apparently felt good.  Now new legislation began to pour forth. 

·      In 1964 the Wilderness Act became law, setting aside certain primitive and undisturbed lands to remain forever wild.  

·      The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act passed in 1968 basically aimed at protecting rivers from construction of dams but it also inserted the heavy hand of the federal government deeply into management of private and state lands along these waterways as well. 

·      The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1970 required evaluation of the effects of man’s activities on his environment. 

·      The Endangered Species Act of 1973, one of the most powerful, invasive and sweeping laws ever, was passed by Congress. 

·      The Resource Planning Act (RPA) became law in 1974.

·      The Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), became law in 1976. 

Endless federal regulations, all carrying the force of law themselves, were produced to guide implementation of these complex, often conflicting and sometimes vague laws. With the laws and regulations came Forest Plans, interdisciplinary teams, intense public involvement, appeals, endless litigation and management by judicial decree. These regulations, combined with case law from the inevitable litigation, have created a quicksand into which the Forest Service finds itself sinking.

Times today are different.  We have the benefit of new science.  New technology has revolutionized the way we work and play.  This science and technology has led us to more closely emulate natural processes in our management activities, recognizing the interaction of plants, animals and people with our environments.  We still need natural resources for our reasonable use and enjoyment.  Everything we are and everything we have ultimately comes from the land—food, fiber, metals, plastics, paper, wood, recreation, comfort, wealth—everything!  We can and should wisely use our public lands to meet the needs of the American people.  Qualified professional land managers could assure the wise, long-term use of our National Forests if they were given that opportunity, but this cannot happen in the current political and legal context.

Obviously, change is not going to come easily.  But we can help and we must never give up.  We can stay involved in the processes mandated by the present laws, even if it requires appeals and litigation.  This is the context we have and it is in this context we must work.  We can also work to change that context by encouraging the Raul Labradors, Mike Crapos, Mike Simpsons and Jim Rischs of Congress to pursue simplification of the terrible morass of laws and regulations.  We can push for depoliticizing the Forest Service, restoring it to a professional organization dedicated to the long-term management of our public lands.  We can work with the people in the Forest Service constructively, recognizing that they are decent, caring people who did not make the mess in which they must work.

Sandra Mitchell

Public Lands Director



Coalition News and Events



Land Allocation Committee 


The next Land Allocation Committee meeting will be Wednesday, January 18 from 7 pm-8:30 pm

The meeting will be held in the basement conference room at Idaho First Bank, 475 Deinhard Ln, McCall, ID 83638

The topic is ATV, UTV and Equestrian Use on the Payette National Forest.

Our guest speakers include David Claiborne, President of the Idaho State ATV Association, Mark Wood, President of the McCall Snowmobile and ATV Club, Todd Wernex with the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, and Bob Wagner with the Backcountry Horsemen of Idaho.

Presenters will discuss current recreational uses on the Payette and potential ways to improve current Forest Service designations.

The meeting is sponsored by the Payette Forest Coalition (PFC), a collaborative group working to build diverse community support for forest restoration projects on the Payette National Forest.

The PFC formed a Land Allocation Committee to review current land designations, assess what is and is not working, and develop recommendations. Our group is hosting a series of listening sessions to hear from various stakeholders on their perspectives on land management designations.

The meeting is open to all members of the public. The PFC has not recommended any changes from the current status.

Everyone is also encouraged to join the PFC meeting scheduled the following day at the Payette Forest Supervisor’s office. See the agenda.

For more information on the Land Allocation Committee, contact John Robison at (208) 345-6933 x 13 or

Subscribe to emails on Payette Forest Coalition meetings here:





Spatial Interest, LLC, P.O. Box 10, McCall, ID 83638, USA



Scotchman Peaks plan scrutinized

January 13, 2017 at 5:00 am | By Keith Kinnaird


Scotchman Peaks plan scrutinized


Wednesday’s meeting on the Scotch-man Peaks proposal drew a crowd. (Photo by KEITH KINNAIRD)


CLARK FORK — A proposal to firm up a wilderness designation for 13,900 acres in the Idaho Panhandle National Forests went through the wringer on Wednesday.


Supporters of the Scotchman Peaks wilderness proposal hosted a well-attended public meeting to discuss bringing permanency to the designation and its impact on accessing the area. The meeting follows U.S. Sen. Jim Risch’s announcement last month that he is introducing legislation formally establishing the Idaho portion of the wilderness area.


Despite claims making their way across the Internet, social media and over coffee, the designation would not prohibit hunting, fishing, hiking or huckleberry picking, according to Friends of Scotchman Peak and U.S. Forest Service officials.


The designation would, however, prohibit motorized vehicles and mechanical conveyances such as bicycles and carts used to pack out big game harvested by hunters.


The acreage contemplated in Risch’s bill dovetails with an existing recommended wilderness designation that was established through a lengthy forest management plan update for the Idaho Panhandle and Kootenai national forests, which was finalized in 2015.


As a result, a wilderness rule has been essentially been in effect since that time.


“We are not changing anything. We’re not closing an area,” said Sandy Compton, program coordinator for Friends of Scotchman Peaks.

The proposed legislation would make the wilderness permanent and binding upon future generations throughout perpetuity.


The broader Scotchman proposal also contemplates a wilderness designation of 48,000 acres in Montana, making it the first interstate wilderness area.

Friends of Scotchman Peaks has worked for more than a decade in piecing together a diverse mosaic of support from elected officials and the public, in addition to timber and mining companies.


Former Bonner County Commission Chairman Cary Kelly said boards skew conservative and don’t support wilderness proposals, but commissioners have over the years made an exception for Scotchman due to the unique beauty and challenging terrain, which complicates resource extraction.

“Scotchman Peaks, for the commissioners, is the exception to the rule,” said Kelly, who took to summiting Scotchman Peak with county employees as part of its wellness program.


Bob Boeh, vice president of government affairs for Idaho Forest Group, said the proposal would have no impact on its sawmill operations because there is ample timber on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests that is more suitable for harvest.

“There is some marginal timberland in the proposal,” said Boeh.


The wilderness set-aside amounts to one half of 1 percent of the 2.4 million acres of land within the IPNF.

But for some attending Wednesday’s meeting, it was one half of 1 percent too much.


“This is another layer of federal control. This is another federal land grab,” said Danielle Ahrens of the Idaho Redoubt, an arch-conservative blog which has come out against the proposal.


Others were concerned that the designation would prevent fire management activities, big game habitat restoration projects or rescues of injured forest users.


The designation may affect how projects are implemented, but it wouldn’t necessarily stop them from happening, according to Scotchman Peaks and Forest Service officials. Airlifting injured hikers or hunters would still be allowed under the designation.


Sheriff Daryl Wheeler said deputies would not be deterred by barriers they encounter on an emergency call.


“If there are gates there, we’re tearing (down) those gates,” said Wheeler.


Some argued they were being disenfranchised from the process because they had no say in it, although the forest planning process was the subject of numerous public meetings in which citizen input was gathered in an attempt to strike a balance between various forest user groups with conflicting goals.


“The reality is we can’t please everybody 100 percent,” said Sandpoint District Ranger Erick Walker.


Sid Smith, Panhandle regional director for Risch’s office, said the legislation is by no means a finished product and is meant to fully develop a dialogue with the public about the proposal. He added that legislation is neither being rushed nor forced.


“We are going to take our time with this,” said Smith.



Mitch Silvers

Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Environment

U.S. Senator Mike Crapo






Public Land Updates

December 2016:



Good morning! Red ridge will not be groomed this year. We will open the 626. This cost share easement runs parallel to red ridge approx. 50 yards to the west. We will work to sign the new access point. Please always respect PRIVATE property. If we are to recreate on private property we must show that we can be respectful and accountable. Thank you


Larry Laxson

Valley County Parks and Recreation




We JUST got wind of this rally. We apologize for the short notice. We are hearing that a monument announcement may be coming this week. We predicted this back in the early part of 2016...we hope to be wrong on this one.

The time is now to voice your concerns about a Bears Ears national-monument proclamation that appears to be imminent.

Monday, December 19th, 2016
2:30pm State Capitol building

This afternoon in Salt Lake City, people will gather on the steps and in the rotunda to advocate responsible use by holding signs, speaking with press, etc. Apparently it will be followed by a counter-protest full of Native American and non-native monument supporters.

Let's show them that many people of all ethnicities challenge the need for our president to unilaterally proclaim everything from the Navajo Reservation up to Hurrah Pass as a national monument. It's an opportunity to demonstrate our passion, but also our reason, as alternatives like simply improving BLM's existing management or passing the Utah Public Lands Initiative make it completely unecessary for the president to proclaim a national monument that's long on acreage and short on local support.

Granted, instead of the 1.9 million-acre boundary proposed by the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition (which is funded by wilderness groups), the administration seems poised to go with a 1.3 million-acre boundary based on NCA's proposed by the Utah Public Lands Initiative. Unfortunately, the monument proclamation wouldn't include the PLI's language requiring land managers to relocate any problemmatic routes rather than closing them outright, nor the benefits outside of Bears Ears such as recreation zones and the Red Rock Country OHV Trail, not to mention a limitation on future national-monument proclamations in the affected counties. In short, a 1.3 million-acre Bears Ears monument would be yet another overreach that makes Antiquities Act reform all the more pressing.

Wilderness groups complain that wilderness bills haven't been passing in recent years. Well, for one thing, land is finite, so they should expect the rate of new designations to dimish. What's more, wilderness groups have begun designing wilderness bills to fail! The bills have been inflated in order give the administration political cover to proclaim a monument. In the case of the Bears Ears, the wilderness groups exploited part of the Public Lands Initiative bill to rationalize another monstrous monument. The wilderness groups had no intention of following through with the legislative track, but they went through the motions to run out the clock. Specifically, the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition pledged to provide their proposed "co-management" language to congressmen Bishop and Chaffetz, but on November 30th BEIC finally said that it wouldn't give the "co-management" language unless the congressmen agree to a 1.9 million-acre boundary and several other demands that were above and beyond what could be provided, even by a monument. The administration had encouraged BEIC to give the PLI a chance, but it didn't do enough to compel BEIC to meaningfully negotiate. While BEIC was all too willing to be a pawn for wilderness groups, the systemic problem is that the Antiquities Act continues to undermine the legislative process, and allows uncompromising groups like SUWA to coopt the traditional conservation lobby in D.C.

Two decades after the proclamation of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the PLI has shown a better way of achieving conservation without losing recreation and economic opportunities. Another monument would destroy the collaborative process for decades to come. At least we can say that we tried to prevent this breakdown of negotiations, which is why it's simportant to show up at today's rally.


December 2016

Public Land Update


 Several years ago, I saw a sign that read, “Don’t confuse habit with commitment”.  It is so true, often we do things because we always have or always should but not because we are motivated by passion.  I fear at times that many members of the Idaho State Snowmachine Association (ISSA) have lost their passion for this amazing organization and many new people don’t know enough about ISSA to develop a passion for it.  Perhaps it is time for an ISSA 101 Course!  Let’s reignite our Passion.

Here we go, a crash course in ISSA and no, there will not be a quiz!

#1 goal of ISSA is to promote our access to the public lands!

In case you haven’t noticed, there are many who do not want you to ride on public lands.  ISSA is dedicated to keeping the gates open and the land available for your use.  This is done by working with federal land managers, the Idaho Legislature, State Agencies, the Governor and Congress.   ISSA is not new to the political world.  ISSA was instrumental in passing the original snowmobile registration act, sponsored and passed legislation that created a special snowmobile vehicle license plate, set up the first in the nation search and rescue fund and created the non-resident trail fee.  One would be hard pressed to find any member of the Idaho Legislature who is not familiar with this amazing organization.  But we do not just work the halls of the Legislature.  Members of ISSA have also walked the Halls of Congress supporting or opposing legislation.  Because of ISSA, the American Council of Snowmobile Associations does a yearly snowmobile fly-in to DC.  It was our idea and we made the first trip happen.   ISSA is powerful within the political world because of its members who care and are involved.

ISSA makes sure its members are never the last to know!  Our magazine Snow Biz is published 6 times a year and if you choose, you can receive our ‘Public Land Alerts’.  Members of ISSA are informed on what is happening in Idaho and in the nation and we make it easy for them to participate in all the planning processes that impact our sport. 

ISSA is a proud advocate of the philosophy of Responsible Shared Use.  Unlike many other organizations, it does not suffer from ‘tunnel vision.’  We believe that all have a responsibility to care and share the land and no one group has greater rights than another.  ISSA is not one of the ‘shrill’ voices clamoring for their way or no way.  Thus, we have gained the respect of Forest Service officials in Idaho, in the Regional Offices and in Washington.  Does that mean, we don’t push back when we don’t like a decision or a policy, absolutely not--we oppose decisions and we litigate when necessary.  Over 15 years ago, the ISSA Legal Defense Fund was created because many major land use decisions are made in the courts.  It is vital that ISSA is a party to litigation that affects our sport.  Snowmachiners must challenge bad decisions because a bad decision in one forest sets the stage for bad decisions in other forests.   

 ISSA is committed to doing everything they can to ensure that snowmachines will be riding in their favorite riding places today and for all the tomorrows to come. 

ISSA is the glue that binds snowmachines together from one of the state to the other.  We have a long and proud history of protecting your right to ride.  We have worked hard, but we have also had great fun along the way.  ISSA is worth your time, your energy and your passion!

Sandra F Mitchell

Public Land Director





Public Land Updates

November 2016:


November 17, 2016

This morning the Senate passed the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act.  This legislation is now on the President's desk awaiting signature.

'American Council of Snowmobile Associations'

Follow the link for more information…

National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act Passed_American Council of Snowmobile Associations.pdf


November 17, 2016

Wilderness, Idaho and snowmobilers!


Idaho currently has almost 4,792,969 million acres of designated wilderness-- only Alaska and California have more!  Before we decide if want more, we should discuss exactly what it is and what it isn’t.


What Wilderness is:

  • As defined in the 1964 Wilderness Act, wilderness is undeveloped federal land retaining its primeval character and influence. The natural forces prevail, without man’s interference. Man is a visitor who doesn’t remain and his works are substantially unnoticeable. It provides outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation.
  • The Act prohibits commercial enterprises, structures, roads, motorized equipment, and mechanized (mountain bikes) transportation.  It then goes on to enumerate a few, limited exceptions allowing such activities as outfitter-guide services and administration.
  • The focus of wilderness management is perpetuation of its wilderness character. Wilderness is a place where the natural forces prevail and fire is among those forces. While fire was historically suppressed, it is now permitted to more nearly play its natural role.


What Wilderness is not:

  • Wilderness is not for most types of recreation. A limited amount of recreation can take place there, but only the most primitive kind.
  • Wilderness is not managed for wildlife, stable ecosystems or rare and endangered species. Nature rolls the dice. Species come and go, as they have for eons. Fires may destroy old growth harboring spotted owls, landslides or siltation from flash floods may ruin endangered salmon habitat or make it inaccessible. Wilderness provides habitat for wildlife, but it can’t be managed to benefit any species.
  • Wilderness designation does not assure things will stay as they are. The land and living things it supports are dynamic, in constant flux.
  • Wilderness designation does not insulate it from outside influences. Exotic plants invade, such as spotted knapweed, and displace native species. Urban air influences nearby wildernesses. Passing aircraft produce sounds of the modern world.
  • Wilderness does not necessarily confine its natural processes within its borders. Insect and disease outbreaks can escape into surrounding lands. The same is true of fires. Smoke from wilderness fires can blanket entire regions for months, making the air barely breathable and devastating tourism.



Idaho, like much of the West, is a growing State. We have seen a population growth of nearly thirty percent in the past decade or so. And we are becoming more urban, with more than 80% of our population now living in town. With all this growth, there is a need to increase recreational opportunities for the public, not to limit opportunities.


Idaho is a State full of folks that like to recreate. Our region of the country has the highest rate – over 80% -- of people that regularly participate in outdoor recreation. As more rural land continues to be developed, and there are less open spaces to enjoy, the public will increasingly turn to the federal public lands for recreational activities and the scenic beauty that comes with them.  The most popular activities today include bird viewing, hiking, backpacking, snowmobiling and off-road driving.


There are currently 2 and perhaps 3 ongoing efforts to designate more wilderness in Idaho. Snowmobilers need to be alert and involved in any and all discussions about more wilderness. What you do today, will determine where you, your children and grandchildren will ride tomorrow.  Stay involved because together we can be successful in protecting your favorite riding area which may well be someone’s idea for the next wilderness area!



Sandra Mitchell                                                                      Larry Laxson

Director of Public Lands                                                         Membership Chairman











You can set-up one or more blogs for posting organization news, articles and other information.  You can set up public and members-only blogs, and control who can or can't create new posts or comment on posts.
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  • Friday, October 14, 2016 5:21 PM | Greg Davis (Administrator)


    Valley County

    The Wilks brothers, two Texas billionaires, purchased 172,000 acres of private property in Valley County that was previously owned by Boise Cascade and then Potlatch.  That hit the news and the uproar began.  The media certainly didn’t help by jumping to many incorrect assumptions!  Albert Einstein was right when he said, “Assumptions are made and most assumptions are wrong”.    

    Here is what is Correct:

    • ·       DF Development LLC which is owned by two gentlemen from Texas purchased the property.

    • ·       All logging contracts were cancelled.  They will be reissued according to the guidelines of the new owners.

    • ·       Most public access through their property is done through cost share agreements or easements.  The new owners are willing to work with Valley County on any access concerns.

    • ·       Representatives of the company are currently having regular conversations with Larry Laxson, Valley County Parks and Recreation about future use of their land.

    • ·       This company owns property in Idaho County and according to a County Commissioner there,  they are fine landowners and good partners.

    • ·       The owners of the property are not experienced with recreation needs but they are more than willing to listen and learn.

    • ·       While touring the land before the purchase, they became concerned about over-logging, the size and condition of the elk herds and the amount of GARBAGE in and around the dispersed camping sites.

    If we are going to be allowed to continued access to their property beyond what is covered by easements, we are going to have to prove that we can be good neighbors and dependable partners.  We will need to demonstrate that they can trust us to use their land in a responsible manner.  Remember they are under no legal obligation to allow public access anymore than you have to let people use your property.  It is truly a privilege and we must respect their right to determine how their property is used.

    A good lesson for all of us--Verify our easements. Make sure they are ‘Easements Appurtenant’. What is that you ask?  An easement is the right to use another’s land for a limited purpose.   Most easements will be “appurtenant” to the involved properties. That is a fancy way of saying the easement permanently “runs with the land” and may not be transferred separately from the property.

    Boise County

    Another case of bad information from the media!  If you believe everything you hear on TV news, you would think that all grooming has been shut down for this winter near Idaho City because of the Pioneer Fire.  That simply isn’t true!  No decisions about grooming have been made.  The fire will soon be 100% contained.  At that time, the Forest Service will be able to tell what needs to be done before grooming can begin.  I plan on attending a FS tour of the area at the end of the month and will be able to see firsthand what the problems are and how we can resolve them.

    It is hard to find good news when it comes to catastrophic fires but there is some.  The District Ranger in Idaho City, Brandt Petersen, is one of the most dedicated fair-minded Rangers with whom I have ever worked.  He understands how important the area is to sledders and to the local economy.  ISSA will work closely with the Forest Service and IDPR to get as many areas as possible opened.

    Sandra Mitchell

    Public Land Director

  • Tuesday, October 04, 2016 6:17 PM | Greg Davis (Administrator)



    ISSA made news in the New York Times! Although this article does not convey the reality of how the snowmobile community respects the lands and wildlife of our country, it tells a story of a beautiful animal with whom we share our lands. This article has nothing to do with snowmobiling. It is another attempt to restrict access to public lands. We do not snowmobile with the Caribou. Nor do we encroach on there habitat. This article is one of the most bias reads that I have ever read. Judge for self and read on.


    With respect to wildlife

    Greg Davis Snowmobiler 


  • Sunday, September 25, 2016 2:32 PM | Greg Davis (Administrator)


    The Only Solution Big Enough!

    I have had the opportunity either to live in or travel to almost every part of the West and I am continually stunned by its beauty and grandeur.   The deserts, the mountains and the prairies all speak of the blessings given to us.  The west is truly resource rich and yet I find myself often looking at an expanse of land and wondering “how did we mess this up?”  With all these resources, why is the largest export product from the rural communities our children?  Why does the rural population shrink each year?   Why are there millions of acres with no use?  Why do the number and the intensity of wildfires grow each year?  When did wildfires become catastrophic fires?  Who benefits from blackened trees, scorched sterile earth and dead wildlife?  If all wealth comes from the earth, why can we not mine, harvest timber, or recreate where appropriate?

     The problem is that over half of land in the West is held by the Federal Government.  Twelve states in the West are being treated differently than the 38 states whose federally held lands were given to them for management.   The decision for the Federal Government to retain these lands was made in 1976 by Congress in a piece of legislation entitled the Federal Land and Policy Management Act (FLPMA).   As a result,  the western federal lands continue to be managed out of Washington, DC under an abundance of laws passed by people who do not live in the West, do not understand our way of life, and often do not care how we are impacted.   If things continue as is, I can guarantee you that snowmobilers are going to be forced into smaller and smaller areas.  It won’t be because of resource issues but rather as a result of ghastly decisions from judges, bad federal legislation, and endless regulations from the land management agencies.

    Since 1796, Congress has included in each State’s act of admission a statement that says: when a State enters the Union it is, “on an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatever”.   How can Idaho or any Western state be equal to the Eastern States when we cannot inhabit a great deal of the land or use the resources from those lands?  How can Montana, Alaska and Idaho have “equal footing" in Congress  with their one or two Congressmen stacked up next to the Eastern states’ representation such as New Jersey’s 13 or Rhode Island and Virginia’s 11 congressmen.   Why does the South have a booming timber industry and we do not?  If we want better access, better health and better productivity, then this is the answer!  Let Westerners manage their own land.

    There is legislation in Washington, DC currently being proposed that would require states interested in obtaining federal lands to petition the federal government for the lands they wish to acquire.  The transfer would be done in an orderly fashion, not all at once.  In Idaho, discussions are under way to amend the state constitution so that any lands acquired would be managed under a state multiple use plan.   It will also say that none of the lands could be sold.  These are all ideas being discussed.  There are many hurdles to cross and elections to get through before anything actually happens. 

    Many times the question has been asked, “Can Westerners manage the federal lands within their states?”  Wrong question.  The right question is, “who could possibly manage the these lands worse?”  We who live in the West are bright, resourceful people who love the land and will make sure that it is managed well for this and future generations.

    So what do we do?  The short term solution is we continue doing what we have learned to do so well.  We participate in the process--that means more meetings and writing more comments and we stay involved in politics at both the federal, state, and county levels.  We actively promote and protect the sport we love.  That is a given but I believe there is a long term solution and the time has come!  The Federal Government needs to transfer the public lands to the Western States and counties in which they lie.  We need to manage our own lands!  The promise to the Eastern states at the time of their entry into the Union is the same one made to us here in the West, but they got their lands and now we want ours.

    Sandra Mitchell,

    Public Lands Director

  • Saturday, September 24, 2016 7:41 PM | Greg Davis (Administrator)

    Two Texas billionaire brothers now own a big chunk of S. Idaho?


    ARRRRRG! Read the article. This is not good for our public land use and we MUST do something.

    Read more here:


    One of the largest chunks of private land in Southern Idaho changed hands for the second time this year and the apparent new owners already have a reputation for shutting the public out.


    Southern Pine Plantations, a private timberland investment company based in Macon, Ga., sold the 172,000 acres of timberlands. Those forests, primarily in Valley, Boise and Adams counties, are intermingled with Boise National Forest, Payette National Forest and Idaho state endowment lands, along with other nonindustrial private lands. The deed, which was filed in Valley County on Tuesday, lists D.F. Development LLC as the new owner with Robert Early as the contact at a mailing address in Cisco, Texas.

    Read more here:



    A Wilks Brothers purchase in Southern Idaho would be par for the course. The Wilks have been buying as much as 300,000 acres of land in Montana over several years. They bought 38,000 acres of land in Idaho County, completing the deals in 2015, and apparently closed access to local residents for hunting and recreation, the Lewiston Tribune reported.

    The Tribune reported that, according to the Idaho County Assessor’s Office, the brothers started buying ranches in western Idaho County in 2008, worth a combined total of $2.4 million. The brothers did not talk to the Tribune.

    Read more here:

  • Monday, August 22, 2016 3:59 PM | Greg Davis (Administrator)


    Public Land Update

    September 2016

    The Great Burn Saga Continues!

    This section of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest provides some of the finest primitive riding in North Idaho.  In fact, to find a comparable area in size and geography, one would have to travel to the Selkirk Mountains adjacent to Revelstoke, BC .  It is truly unique and because of that, ISSA has been embroiled in the fight to keep it open since 2004.  We have submitted comments, filed an objection but in the end, we were forced to decide whether to walk away from the area or file a lawsuit.  We chose the latter.  Eventually the Forest Service decided to settle and an agreement was reached that required the Forest to ‘make a new decision based’ on the alternatives in the Record of Decision before the next winter season.  After a number of extensions, they have recently issued a new decision.  Regretfully the new decision is the same as the old decision which prohibits snowmobiling in the Great Burn.  Once again, there are no resource issues or social issues that justify the closure it is simply because of the policy-guideline of Region 1 to manage areas Recommended as Wilderness as Wilderness.   There is no Forest Service Policy or Rule that requires them to do so.  ISSA has filed an objection to that decision. 

    The objection states clearly the position of ISSA: 

    “We are deeply disappointed by the Draft ROD.  In fact, we view it as a stubborn step backwards in the reasoned dialogue we have attempted to have with USFS personnel in Region 1 and the Forests.  The proverbial elephant in this room is the misbegotten “guidance” and the extent to which the Forest Service will defend it, or assure us of its demise.  Instead, the Draft ROD reflects a half-hearted yet belated effort at ending up exactly where we started. 

    To be specific, we have repeatedly asked for some recognition, if even symbolic recognition, of some aspect of continuing motorized use of the Clearwater RWA’s.  One might think the agency would welcome this strategy, as it might persuasively rebut our central premise that USFS Region 1, perhaps with oversight from the Washington Office, is mandating an inflexible prohibition on continuing motorized/mechanized use in RWA’s.  The agency’s insistence on imposing the prohibition not coincidentally dictated by the “guidance” coupled with the conspicuous failure to consider any meaningful alternative(s) here only fuels our fears and intensifies our effort to seek judicial resolution of this issue.”

    The Great Burn is a classic example of why snowmobilers must stay united.  The opposition we have mounted could not be done by one club or a few individuals. It takes the resources of a committed statewide organization to protect our access to the backcountry.

    Private property vs. Public Access:

    This is an issue we see popping up in every corner of the state.  The cause can be a new land owner who chooses not to allow public recreational use or private property owners who want roads closed that provide access to public lands.  Whatever the reason, the result is a loss of access. 

    First and foremost, we must respect private property; however, there are ways to resolve the problem if there is a willingness on behalf of the private property owners to do so.  The most common method would be through the purchasing of an easement.  An “easement is a nonpossessory interest in another's land that entitles the holder only to the right to use such land in the specified manner”.  In our case it would be a recreation or transportation easement giving us the ability to cross or use private property.  There is another kind of easement called a prescriptive easement. This is an easement upon another's property acquired by continued use without permission of the owner for a period provided by state law to establish the easement.  As you can well imagine, this kind of an easement is usually resolved in a court of law.

    Know that there are options if faced with this problem; however, it is wise not to wait until access is lost or a private property is closed.  Be proactive: Identify trail systems that cross private land or roads that are necessary for access to public lands.   Work with the land owners to see if they are willing to provide a recreation easement.  If not, look for an alternate trail. 

    ISSA continues our efforts to protect our access on many fronts from one end of the state to the other.  We understand that what we do today will determine where we ride in the future and today like all other days, we chose to do everything possible within the political, administrative, and legal processes to make sure that we won’t have to settle for telling the next generation about where we rode, we can show them.

    Everyone who owns a snowmobile has a stake in this fight!  Please spread the word about our challenges and about the organization that is working to ensure there are places to ride!  The more members we have, the more effective we can be.

  • Thursday, August 18, 2016 4:34 PM | Greg Davis (Administrator)


    It’s all about ACCESS

    August, 2016

    Whether you snowmobile, ride an OHV, boat, or are a backcountry aviator, if you don’t have access to the public lands, you might as well as sell your recreational vehicle of choice. No one understands this better than the Idaho State Snowmobile Association (ISSA) and no other organization has been fighting to protect your access as long we have. ISSA has been successful in the administrative process, in the state legislature and in Congress and with your help; we will continue to do so.

    A number of years ago, ISSA participated in a lawsuit with the Idaho Recreation Council against the Payette National Forest because of their OHV Travel Plan which closed 80% of the roads in the Krassel Ranger District. Many of the roads were necessary for winter access as well as for summer use. We prevailed in court and as a result a collaborative group was formed to resolve the road issues. For over two years, stakeholders have been meeting monthly to find agreement on which roads/trails can be opened. The issues involved are complex and numerous. They include private property, ESA listed species, mercury contamination, cost benefits of road improvement, large scale mine development, access for the public, economic impacts to small communities, tribal interests and others. Those are big and difficult issues but because it is important to recreationists, we have stayed involved.

    Idaho Conservation League and others are constantly trying to close public land to all recreation except there elitist form. No more wilderness! The line has been drawn! 

    Sandra Mitchel-Director of Public Lands

    Larry Laxson-ISSA Fundraising Committee Chairman

  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015 1:14 PM | Royal Kingsley (Administrator)

    The Idaho State Snowmobile Association has filed for a grant from the RTP fund to purchase orange snow poles to be used by the 29 grooming programs thru out the state. ISSA will work IDPR Trails Staff to assist with the distribution of the poles. Individual grooming programs will seasonally place where there is need for trail identification or a hazard exist.

  • Friday, April 05, 2013 10:01 AM | Anonymous

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Sandra Mitchell, (208) 869-3318
    Paul Turcke, (208) 331-1800

    Date: April 2, 2013



    BOISE, ID (April 2, 2013)--Snowmobile advocates today responded to a recent decision in United States District Court for the District of Idaho, which directs the U.S. Forest Service to promulgate new motorized travel management regulations. The decision was released on March 29, 2013, and declared unlawful the agency's 2005 Travel Management Rule for violating "plain language" in a forty-year old Executive Order and allowing it to be "discretionary" whether the Forest Service designates "areas of use or non-use" by snowmobiles. The 2005 Rule was years and millions of dollars in the making.

    While it is typical to conduct further proceedings to determine a proper remedy in an environmental case like this, the court's decision simply announces a new rule must be issued within 180 days. The parties to the case, including snowmobile advocates Idaho State Snowmobile Association, American Council of Snowmobile Associations, and BlueRibbon Coalition, are still interpreting the court's ruling. "This is either a tectonic shift or much ado about nothing," stated Sandra Mitchell. "Forest Service rules and maps have for decades regulated not only areas of 'use and non-use' but details to the gnat's eyelash regarding winter use of specific roads and trails for motorized and non-motorized users. If it does anything, this decision will create unnecessary controversy and further sap the planning budget of an agency already fearful of being raided in the name of fiscal reform," added Sandra.

    The decision is subject to appeal for sixty days. A copy of the decision may be

    viewed HERE.

    # # #

    The ISSA is an Idaho nonprofit corporation providing a unified voice for the Idaho snowmobile community, seeking reasonable snowmobile access to public and private lands in Idaho, and educating public and private interests on snowmobile use, safety

    and access.

    The American Council of Snowmobile Associations (ACSA) is a national organization that was formed to unite the snowmobile community. ACSA is your voice for snowmobiling on national issues. ACSA is committed to the future preservation of our sport. Learn more about ACSA at

    The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible recreation, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. With members in all 50 states, BRC is focused on building enthusiast involvement with organizational efforts through membership, outreach, education, and collaboration among recreationists.

    1-800-BlueRib -

  • Tuesday, March 19, 2013 11:30 AM | Anonymous

    Last week the bill IDPR sponsored to move registrations to ITD was held in committee. We thought the issue was done for the year but not so. IDPR continues to be committed to making the transfer happen this year. After having heard repeatedly that “IDPR has to do it” and “they don’t want to” we decided that the only way to resolve this issue was to clarify the statutes to say that IDPR ‘may’ but doesn’t have to. (legislation attached) That gives IDPR the option but does not require them to share information with ITD. We have never believed that titling and registrations are connected; furthermore, we do not believe that it was the intent of recreationists to connect them when registrations were created. Simply put, all we ever wanted to do was collect money, pool it, and put it on the ground to build the infrastructures needed for our sport. We also believe that the registration program should be managed by people with a vested interest in making it successful.

    Although we continue to talk with the leadership of IDPR, we believe it critical that our legislation move forward. Time is running out on the 2013 Legislative Session. If a compromise is reached, we can pull the bill.

    We need your help!!! And we need it in a couple of ways:

    1. Please contact any legislator below that you know or that is your representative and give them this simple message (please feel to write in your own words)


    (If you are a vendor/dealer, please identify yourself as one, “I am a vendor or dealer and I believe……”)

    2. The hearing for H 279 is tomorrow, Thursday afternoon, in the House Transportation and Defense Committee at 1:30 p.m. We need people to attend and people to testify. It is absolutely critical that the committee knows this issue is important to the recreationists. Plus it will be FUN!

    Representative JoAn Wood District 35

    Butte, Clark, Fremont & Jefferson Counties

    If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you and remember, we need you!

    Interestingly, the registration program was originally housed in ITD. The history of the registration program is attached also. I think you will find it extremely telling!


    H 279 3-13.pdf


    Registration History 3-13.pdf

  • Tuesday, March 19, 2013 11:18 AM | Anonymous

    We are asking for your help PLEASE!

    Our snowmobiles and trailer were stolen from Gillette sometime between Tues 03.05 and Sat 03.09. Both machines were on the Yachtclub trailer, along with a small pull behind dog sled trailer.

    We have filed a police report-----but???

    PLEASE keep your eyes out for these for us, and post this where you can.

    They are older, but in good condition with low mileage. They did not have covers on. 1 was a Christmas gift.

    We can be reached at the # in the flyer, or by return email.

    If you are unable to open the attachment, please let me know and I will paste the info in the body of the email.

    WE SO appreciate your HELP!!

    Thank you

    Jim and Jo – Gillette


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