Today, Flathead National Forest issued a request for cooperation from skiers, hikers, and snowboarders at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Since the resort closed down its lifts early this month, hikers have been climbing the hill to grab turns in deep spring snow—many bringing along their canine companions. This past weekend, the Forest Service was on the hill enforcing the “dogs on leash” rule.
“The number of hikers has been growing every year,” said Chester Powell, Director of Operations for the resort. Even on weekdays, the upper parking lot fills half full of skiers and snowboarders—many who use the opportunity as a chance to exercise Fido. On some days, dogs nearly outnumber skiers on the mountain. “People have a tendency to think that once the have crossed Whitefish Mountain Resort private property and are on public land that dogs can run free,” added Powell.
The Forest Service statement said that unleashed dogs are a “health and safety problem that can be solved by dog owners leashing their pets throughout their visit.” The Forest Service just installed new signs at the bottom of Big Mountain indicating that the fines for dogs running amok range from $75 to $5,000.
“The National Forest lands at Whitefish Mountain Resort provide a great place to enjoy spring hiking, skiing, and snowboarding; however, dogs must be on a leash and under physical restrictive control by the owner at all times,” said Tally Lake District Recreation Resource Assistant Becky Smith-Powell.
Law enforcement officers from the Forest Service visited the mountain slopes this past weekend patrolling for unleashed dogs as well as snowmobilers violating the access to the summit of Big Mountain.
Due to safety concerns, the resort has also been tearing down jumps and rails that have been built. Powell stressed that skiers and riders need to cooperate to maintain the freedom to continue to hike and ski.
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