PHILIPSBURG — Some local residents and snowmobile enthusiasts have asked Granite County officials to order a local landowner to stop plowing a portion of Red Lion Road in the wintertime. They say it interferes with their snowmobile lifestyle.
“We’re afraid that if things were to change and that road was to be plowed just to his property that eventually, our families could be landlocked up there, and if there was ever an emergency up there we can’t get down,” said Red Lion Road resident Greg Madden.
About 25 people brought their concerns to the Granite County Commissioners. Last spring a landowner plowed part of Red Lion Road near Georgetown Lake. Snowmobile riders claim it blocked their path and made conditions unsafe for riders.
Those who live there say they expect to get around on snowmobiles.
“So we bought equipment to spend the entire year up there. We have snowcats, snowmobiles, tracked vehicles—and we went to a lot of expense to do that and I think it’s pretty unfair for a landowner a bit down the road further to break all the rules and put people in danger,” said Brandon Bellrose.
The commissioners said the county and U.S. Forest Service will not plow that road and landowners can’t do it on their own. They plan to meet with the landowner next week to clarify the plowing rules.
Many from the snowmobile community were happy with the commissioner’s decision.
“Georgetown Lake’s thriving right now and we don’t want something like this to ruin winter activity up there,” said Nick Roche with the Anaconda Snowmobile Club.
For those that choose to live and recreate in the area, the snowmobile culture is an accepted way of life, but as more people move in, more conflicts like this will likely happen.
“The culture has changed. There’s been more people moved in, but at the same time access up there for years in the winter was by snowmobile, and to try to change that right now without doing some drastic road work is prohibitive to the people now trying to stay up there year-round,” said Red Lion Road resident Terry Montgomery.
The commissioners plan to meet with the landowner to discuss the plowing issue at their Sep. 7 meeting.