Snowmobilers told to stay out of Round Valley
January 8, 2016
With nearly 15 miles of groomed winter recreation trails, Park City’s Round Valley has been teeming with outdoor enthusiasts who are anxious to play in the powder this year.
However, a unique issue with snowmobilers has recently emerged that is sparking complaints from users and Charlie Sturgis, executive director of Mountain Trails. Round Valley, located west of U.S. 40, is one of Park City’s prime open space parcels, with more than 30 miles of trails.
During the winter, many trails are groomed for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and mountain biking, with motorized vehicles, such as snowmobiles, being prohibited on all trails in Park City and the Snyderville Basin. The only motorized vehicles allowed in the area are the two yellow snowmobiles Mountain Trails staff use.
"What we have going on in Round Valley this year is it seems like we have someone riding snowmobiles through there who doesn’t know or doesn’t’ care," Sturgis said. "I think it just has to do with some ease of access. We have enough snow they can work their way over.
"We don’t have 20 of them though. It has mostly been one or two at a time," Sturgis said.
Around Christmas time, Sturgis received a call from a woman reporting a snowmobiler had run over her ski tips. In an interview with The Park Record on Wednesday, Sturgis said he has found snowmobile tracks within the last few days.
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"They are coming from the same area and they have been out there more than once," Sturgis said. "The very first call I got when the person reported the snowmobiler ran over the tips, even if you didn’t hit the tips of the skis, they had to be pretty close to her. It’s unsafe."
Sturgis said he has attempted to follow the tracks to find where they originated and suspects they came from Highland Drive.
"They are leaving a track from somewhere and it looks like they are coming out of the neighborhood," Sturgis said. "Someone knows who has the snowmobile in their neighborhood."
Mountain Trails would prefer to educate trail users rather than being punitive, Sturgis said. According to Park City ordinances, "it is illegal to operate any motor vehicle, motor-driven cycle, motorcycle, mini motorcycle, motor scooter, motor bikes, snowmobiles, full-sized all-terrain vehicle, all-terrain vehicle, off-highway vehicle, low-speed vehicle, moped, or golf cart on multi-use pathways or natural surface trails." Violators could be convicted of a Class B misdemeanor.
"Our first course of action would be to inform people," he said. "After that, it becomes a violation. All we can do is encourage people to report, and more importantly take photos, of any incidents. If you have a problem with dogs or snowmobilers take a photo."
Sturgis encouraged trail users to send any complaints or photographs of incidents to his email address at Charlie@mountaintrails.org . He added, if the situation is serious or borders on assault, contact the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.
"It’s not about all the laws and you hear all this whining," Sturgis said. "The goal is to have people be better users and be cognizant of other peoples’ desires. We are all out there to have fun."
Most of Round Valley is Park City-owned property with more than 700 acres of protected open space. Erin Bragg, conservation director of the Summit Land Conservancy, said Summit Lands has not received any reports of issues with snowmobilers.
"We haven’t seen any snowmobilers with our own eyes or heard any issues either," Bragg said. "We usually will get people to call us or email us, but we haven’t had anyone do that and we haven’t heard of it either."
To view Park City’s ordinance about operating a motor vehicle, go to http://www.parkcity.org/home/showdocument?id=240 . For more information about the trails in Round Valley, go to http://www.parkcity.org/departments/trails.