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Dutchman Flat Snowmobile use restrictions for 2004

Note: Following the press release and Editorial printed below, the snowmobile folks lobbied the forest service in largely private meetings and succeeded in having the original ruling relaxed to provide for an exclusive snowmobile play area in the open space just beyond the Dutchman Trail Head.
Follow the thread below or skip to the revised rules     To see and print the latest map of the Dutchman snowmobile/skier restrictions click  

Dutchman/Tumalo Mt. Winter Recreation Changes
Ochoco and Deschutes National Forests
Office of Communications
Working as One to Serve Central Oregon

For immediate release: April 30, 2004
Contact: Walt Schloer, Bend Fort-Rock District Ranger--541/383-4000
Sue Olson, Public Affairs Officer--541/383-5561

BEND—Bend Fort-Rock District Ranger Walt Schloer announces changes in recreation use patterns that will be implemented at the Dutchman/Tumalo Mountain area next winter. Members of the public have provided many helpful ideas. Issues most frequently voiced were those of safety, parking, snow recreation corridors, snowmobile speed, and the need for good education about winter recreation uses in the area.

Winter recreationists can expect to see the following differences in use patterns next winter in the Dutchman/Tumalo Mt. area:
• A portion of the west face of Tumalo Mt. will be closed to motorized use.
• The area bounded by the Flagline Trail on the north, Century Drive (trail 5) on the south, the 370 road (trail 8) on the west, and trail 7 on the east is closed to snowmobile use. Snowmobiles are allowed on routes 5,7, and 8 and Big Meadow. (see attached map).
• The southeast face of Tumalo Mt. and the northwest face of Tumalo Mt. will remain open to snowmobile use.
• There will continue to be some areas where each user group will share common corridors and trail crossings. Yet the current volume of crossover areas will be considerably reduced.

Ranger Schloer is also initiating environmental analysis to evaluate proposed development of a new Kapka Butte Snow Park at the junction of road 45 and Century Drive. This proposal seeks to ease pressures of limited parking capacity at Dutchman Snowpark. If environmental analysis leads to a development decision, and funding is available, actual construction would not occur before Summer of 2005.

“With some separation of winter sports, safety should be significantly improved for skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers alike,” says Ranger Schloer. “I would like to thank the many people who participated in the Dutchman Summit in April and the many more who wrote thoughtful letters about this popular place.”

To learn more about these planned changes, view the maps and visit with District Ranger Walt Schloer, you can attend the Trail User Group meeting, May 11th at 6:30 p.m. at the Bend Community Center, 1036 N.E. Fifth Street. The map of changes can be viewed on the web at



An Editorial in The Bulletin

Tough Snowmobile Deal
The Bulletin Editorial
Wednesday, May 4,2004

Deschutes National Forest officials have had the unenviable task of figuring out what to do with the Dutchman Flat and Tumalo Mountain winter recreation areas, where snowmobile enthusiasts have been at odds with other users of the area for the last few years. We commend officials for making a tough decision and urge them to move quickly on a proposed sno-park to accommodate snowmobilers
The issue arose because of the increasing popularity of snowy recreation in the area. Snowmobilers, skiers, snowshoers and others have been crowding into the limited space, particularly around Dutchman Flat. Yet fast machines are incompatible with slow humans, and many near-accidents have been reported. Moreover, the Dutchman Flat Sno-Park is not large enough to handle all of the vehicles and trailers that head up the mountain.

The U.S. Forest Service could not allow the conflicts to continue. Eventually someone would have ended up badly hurt or dead in a snowmobile skier crash. Officials therefore engaged representatives of both sides, looking for a way to keep as much of the forest open as possible. They even convened a summit a couple of months ago to force the snow-partisans to sit down and talk about the issue.

Those talks paid off. The plan announced last week would largely exclude snowmobiles from the area around Dutchman Flat and from the summit of Tumalo Mountain. They will be restricted to the areas south and north of the mountain. Two notable exceptions to that, however, are that they will have access to some existing snowmobile trails across the flat and will have a 100-foot corridor near the Dutchman Flat Sno-Park for straight racing. The changes will take effect next fall.

When it comes to parking, changes will take a little longer to implement. Officials will let snowmobilers use the Dutchman Flat Sno-Park for now, though they will encourage them to use Wanoga and Edison Butte sno-parks instead. In the meantime, the Forest Service will start the necessary studies to put up a new sno-park near the Sunriver turnoff. When it opens - hopefully by 2005 - snowmobile parking will move there. Granted, it is a bit lower on the mountain, but it has ready trail access to the south face of Tumalo Mountain.

People looking for more information can attend a public presentation of the changes Tuesday, May 11, at 6:30 p.m. at the Bend Community Center. They can also check out a map and summary online at

Did the snowmobilers draw the short straw in this debate? Probably, but officials had little other choice.

In order to keep the area safe, something had to be done to segregate the two types of users. Skiers and snowshoers must remember what snowmobilers gave up if they go traipsing out of the motorized-free zone.

If they head onto one of the trails across the south or north sides of Tumalo Mountain, they should exercise extra caution, respect and even a, little gratitude.




New Dutchman Flat/Tumalo Mountain Winter Recreation Rules Revised
Ochoco and Deschutes National Forests, Office of Communications

Working as One to Serve Central Oregon
For immediate release: November 22, 2004
Contact Roland Giller, Public Affairs--541/383-5653

BEND – Bend-Fort Rock District Ranger Walt Schloer announced revisions to the May 1, 2004, decision affecting recreation use in the popular Dutchman Flat/Tumalo Mountain area. Both the new May 1 rules and the revisions reflect public concerns over safety, parking, access corridors and use areas, speed, and information and education issues. These rules take effect this winter and are shown on the map.

The northwestern and southeastern faces of Tumalo Mountain remain open to snowmobile use. A new motorized access route to the summit has been designated. The rest of the mountain is closed to motorized use.

Except for a new 22-acre snowmobile play area on the southwestern side of Dutchman Flat, the area bounded by the Big Meadow-Flagline ski trails on the north, Trail 5 on the south, Trail 8 on the west, and Trail 7 on the east is closed to motorized use.

A quarter-mile section of Trail 5 from Dutchman Snopark to the closed-for-winter section of Highway 46 is designated for motorized access. A half-mile section of Trail 5 beyond this quarter-mile section is divided into parallel motorized-only and non-motorized only groomed trails.

About 1.5 miles of snowmobile trails 5 and 7, the 22-acre Dutchman Flat snowmobile play area, and a 100-foot-wide Trail 7 snowmobile corridor are closed to all non-motorized uses except for skijourers and sled dog teams with a permit available at the Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center or the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger Station, 1230 NE 3rd Street, Bend, open Monday through Friday from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

All users may park at Dutchman Flat Snopark, but vehicles or vehicle-trailer combinations may not be more than 40 feet long.

Ranger Schloer has begun the environmental analysis required by law to evaluate the proposed development of a new Kapka Butte Snopark at the junction of Highway 46 and Road 45. If approved and funded, this SnoPark should be completed in 2008. Until then, all users may park at Dutchman Flat Snopark on a first-come, first-served basis.

“The added separation of winter sports by these changes should significantly improve safety for skiers, snowshoers, and snowmobilers,” Ranger Schloer emphasized. “I thank the many people who participated in the Dutchman Flat Snow Summit last April, and the many more who wrote thoughtful letters about this popular place.”


By Yoko Minoura, The Bulletin, Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Twenty-three acres now excluded from ban on motorized recreation!

The Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District announced a "tweak" Tuesday night to the ban on motorized winter recreation at Dutchman Flat, creating a play area for snowmobilers on the south end of the flat and banning skiers from motorized trails.

The 23-acre play area, tucked between Highway 46 and a snowmobile trail running north from Dutchman Sno-Park, is the result of an effort by the Oregon State Snowmobilers Association (OSSA), according to Marv Lang of the district's wilderness and trails program.

Originally, the ranger district banned snowmobiles on 1,375 acres on the western face of Tumalo Mountain and a nearby area laced with Nordic trails in April after several public meetings and a two-day summit where skiers and snowmobilers clashed.

Three major snowmobile trails, including Trail 7, which runs north from Dutchman Sno-Park and bisects the non motorized area, remained open to motorized use under the April decision announced by District Ranger Walt Schloer.

A 100-foot corridor around Trail 7 will be marked with orange poles and signs, according to Chris Sabo of the district wilderness and trails program. Signs facing inward will tell snowmobilers to stay inside the corridor while signs facing outward will warn skiers away, except at designated crossings.

Lang said the creation of the play area, along with specific plans to segregate user groups, was approved by a group including four or five representatives from both snowmobilers' associations and skiers' groups.

"We're hoping we meet a middle ground, given the premise we're working under. It's not arbitrary and capricious." Lang said. "Safety is the theme."

One strategy the ranger district will employ, announced Tuesday night, creates separate, groomed lanes on Cascade Lakes Highway for motorized and non-motorized users.

All non-motored users, except for dog sledders and skijorers, will be, prohibited in the motorized lane. The two-lane corridor will begin at Dutchman Snow Park and run north, with designated areas where users can cross both lanes.

Prohibiting skiers from motorized areas is a new step, Lang said.

Sabo said that new signage - about 350 in all, should alert users to the regulations, and new maps will be available at major access points.

"I think it's a plus to have the segregation," OSSA member Peggy Spieger said.

Robert Speik of Traditional Mountaineering also gave the plan a tentative thumbs-up.

"I think segregation is good for safety," he said, "(but) I think it's up to the motorized people to be responsible in terms of speed."

Dale Neubauer, a representative of Wild Wilderness, said he had mixed feelings about the plan.

He said he favored placing a speed limit on Trail 7.

"The Forest Service is essentially saying, `Drag racing (snowmobiles) is OK here," he said. "We have a high-speed corridor going right through the heart of things."

Spieger, however, said snowmobilers had given up a great deal under the terms of the closure. The OSSA had originally asked for a 300-foot corridor, she said.

Although discussion remained amicable, Neubauer said he felt the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District sidestepped public input when it decided to adjust the closure plan to include the play area and adopted specific plans for Trail 7.

"I'd like to wait and see and hope for the best, (that) it'll all work out well, " Speik said. ”If it doesn't, this process will continue."





Read more . . .
SNOWMOBILES - a history of this discussion:
Snowmobile parking at Kapka Butte and Dutchman Flat revisited in 2009
Proposed Tumalo Recreation Zone in the Deschutes National Forest in 2009
Snowmobiler falls 1,500' into Mt. St. Helens and survives
Map of snowmobile restrictions at Dutchman Flat  
Snowmobile restrictions published for Dutchman Flat  
Snowmobile Safety Summit on Dutchman Flat area  
Report snowmobile renegades - an Editorial
Snowmobiles should not mix with skiers and snowshoers
Snowmobile accident draws $11 million dollar damage award
Snowmobilers keep the Atta Boy Race on track
Snowmobilers must give a little on parking at Dutchman Flat  
Recent snowmobile accidents near Bend
Set snowmobile limits at Dutchman Flat  
Unregulated OHV use is being reviewed across the western states
Snowmobile access to summit of Mt. St. Helens questioned by The Mountaineers
Snowmobile speed limits on Dutchman Flat in Oregon  
Snowmobiles offer thrills
Snowmobiles in Yellowstone
Snowmobiles as a tool for traditional mountaineering