DONNELLY, IDAHO — Officials with Tamarack Resort and the Idaho State Snowmobile Association (ISSA) signed an historic agreement September 1 that creates a new groomed snowmobile trail to access West Mountain and separate-use recreation zones for Tamarack backcountry skiing operations and high-use snowmobile terrain.
The agreement, drafted in a Memorandum of Understanding and a map of separate-use zones, was signed by Tamarack CEO Jean-Pierre Boespflug and ISSA President Bill Freelove.
This agreement represents a new paradigm for doing business with resorts and the snowmobile community. The landmark deal is unique throughout the western United States and in Valley County, Idaho, because Tamarack and ISSA worked together to resolve user conflicts on West Mountain.
"As a resort operator with a broad range of activities within our land and nearby public land, we place a high priority on working with the various user groups to ensure that all activities logical for the area can be entered into in a safe and enjoyable manner, says Jean-Pierre Boespflug, CEO of Tamarack Resort. "This means a little give and take by each group coupled with smart planning all together. With the cooperation already initiated we stand to be an example for the nation.
Bill Freelove, ISSA President, said the snowmobile community entered negotiations with Tamarack with two objectives in mind. "We wanted to protect our historic high-use snowmobile areas, and we wanted to maintain access to West Mountain. We also realized that Tamarack Resort is important to the economic success of Valley County, and want them to succeed as the first four-season resort to open in the U.S. in 25 years, Freelove said. "We believe that we have achieved our objectives.
The negotiations began in January 2005, when Tamarack officials invited members of the local snowmobile clubs and ISSA to discuss the resort's plans for a guided backcountry skiing operation in the winter of 2005-2006. To make the program safe and viable, Tamarack officials wanted to close Forest Road 436 to snowmobile use and reserve the east slopes of Lone Tree Mountain for skiing.
Snowmobile officials indicated they were willing to consider Tamarack's proposal, if the resort worked to resolve their concerns over access to the summit of West Mountain. Over the winter, Tamarack officials discovered an old logging road in the Gibson Creek area that held promise for a new snowmobile route. After riding the route with snowmobile users last winter, and walking it this summer, Tamarack and ISSA officials have agreed on a new route that snowmobile officials consider to be a safe and viable route.
"It's been unfortunate to lose snowmobile access at Tamarack and on Forest Road 436, but Tamarack has created a new groomed access route that will enhance the existing situation on West Mountain, Freelove said. "Both parties had to make sacrifices and both should be commended for that.
Tamarack's application for guided backcountry skiing in the winter of 2005-2006 is now pending before the Cascade Ranger District of the Boise National Forest. The MOU and new snowmobile access in Gibson Creek are part of the application package. The Boise National Forest is preparing an environmental assessment on the proposal at the present time and expects to issue the permit to Tamarack in December.