Fishlake National Forest and volunteers have been working diligently this winter to help make snowmobiling safer

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Members of the Richfield Ranger District and Fremont River Ranger District of the Fishlake National Forest and volunteers have been working diligently this winter to help make snowmobiling safer on the Gooseberry-Fishlake trail.  When snow conditions are deep, roadside delineators become buried and pose a hazard for snowmobilers.  After the Gooseberry to Fishlake road construction and paving was complete new delineators were added to mark the shoulder of the road as well as culvert crossings.  Orange snow marker poles are being attached to the delineators that have the potential to become buried by snow.  The orange marker poles also aid the DNR trail groomer snow cat to stay on course while grooming the trail.  We have a great winter in progress and many winter recreation days ahead and our goal is to provide as safe of a trail as possible to our winter users.  (Note: there is an inherent risk to snowmobiling or any recreation outdoor activity—please prepare for the conditions you may encounter).

Another safety feature the Richfield Ranger District has recently installed along the snowmobile trail is an electronic avalanche beacon tester.  This unit is marketed by the Arva Snow Safety Equipment Company.  It was developed in Sweden with the goal of placing the device on backcountry ski and snowshoe trailheads that would allow individuals the opportunity to check if their avalanche beacon is transmitting properly.  We have passed the concept onto snowmobilers here to have the same opportunity.  As a snowmobiler approaches the area near the Gooseberry Ranger Station and you will find a set of orange cones on the right edge of the snowmobile trail.  The cones will direct you to drive close to the beacon tester (10 ft away).  You may stop at the beacon tester site for a brief moment and watch for the green light to flash with an associated beeping sound.  The green light indicates your beacon is on and working properly.

We highly encourage our winter recreation users to carry all necessary avalanche gear if they are headed into the back country.  We experience several self-triggered and person triggered avalanches each winter season in our area.  Recommended gear includes an avalanche beacon (extra batteries), shovel and probe.  Avalanche airbag backpacks are also very effective in preventing being trapped in an avalanche.  It is necessary for each person that carries this equipment to receive the necessary training on how to use it in the event that someone in your group gets buried in an avalanche.  Practice burying a beacon with your group when they are not looking and have them work to find it.  It’s a great way to learn and have fun at the same time.  The Utah Avalanche Center is working hard to keep people informed of daily avalanche forecasts.  They also offer some great videos that help teach about equipment use and danger signs to watch for while in the field.  Their newest campaign is entitled “Know Before You Go” and their latest video is really worth watching at: https://utahavalanchecenter.org/know-before-you-go

Please be safe out there—“Know Before You Go” and have fun on your National Forest!

Article and Photos by Kreig Rasmussen

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