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Illegal Snowmobile Use Cited In Wilderness Area

Sonora, Ca — Officials say they are noticing an increase in the amount of snowmobiles that are illegally driven in the Wilderness designated areas of the Stanislaus National Forest.

Within the past week, Stanislaus National Forest Protection Officers observed two snowmobiles cross the posted Wilderness boundary near Highland Lakes in the Calaveras Ranger District and illegally enter the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness.

Operating motorized vehicles within any National Forest designated Wilderness is prohibited, and officials warn that violators caught will face costly fines and possibly jail time. Bail for operating a motorized vehicle in the Wilderness is set at $400. The maximum punishment is $5,000 and/or imprisonment for no more than six months.

Each winter, Stanislaus NF law enforcement officers conduct an active program to detect snow machine operation in the Wilderness. In an effort to inform the public, the Forest Service personnel have placed brightly colored signs along all of the common Wilderness entry points.

In addition, trailheads are posted with a map depicting the Wilderness area boundaries. Three Wilderness areas of the Stanislaus – the Mokelumne, the Carson-Iceberg and the Emigrant – comprise 212,000 acres.

Visitors are encouraged to stop at any Forest Service office and pick up a free brochure showing areas where snow mobile enthusiasts can legally ride snow vehicles in the Calaveras and Summit Ranger Districts.

Written by BJ Hansen