Snowmobilers Cited for Riding in Mission Wilderness

Seven local snowmobilers fined for traveling in designated wilderness area

By Beacon Staff

Law enforcement officers recently cited seven snowmobilers for riding in the Mission Mountain Wilderness, a protected area in the Flathead National Forest.

Motorized vehicles are prohibited in designated wilderness areas.

Seven violation notices were issued to the snowmobilers for possessing or using a motor vehicle or motorized equipment in a National Forest Wilderness.  The snowmobilers were each fined $325. Violating the policy carries a maximum penalty of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization or imprisonment for not more than six months or both.

According to Flathead National Forest officials, officers observed snowmobile tracks entering the wilderness area while patrolling the Mission Mountain Wilderness boundary. Later, several snowmobiles exited the Mission Mountain Wilderness area.

Four of the snowmobilers were from Kalispell and the other three were from the Polson area.

Forest Service Law Enforcement also issued violation notices to two snowmobile operators who violated the Badger – Two Medicine closure area on the Lewis and Clark National Forest.

One individual from Raymond, Alberta stated he knew the area had been closed in the past but that someone told him it was no longer closed to snowmobiles.

The individual was cited for operating a snowmobile in violation of the Motor Vehicle Use Map.

Another individual from Cut Bank drove his snowmobile past two blaze orange boundary signs advising that the area was closed to motor vehicles. The individual stated he was unaware the area was closed to motorized vehicles.

Forest Service Law Enforcement contacted the individual inside the closure area and cited him for operating a snowmobile in violation of the Motor Vehicle Use Map.

Both citations included a $175 fine.

“Snowmobilers have a responsibility to know where they can and cannot operate on Forest Service land,” stated Teresa Wenum, conservation education coordinator with the Flathead National Forest.

The Forest Service provides free maps showing areas that are open to motorized travel and recreation at area offices.

For more information, visit the Flathead National Forest’s website.

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