Thursday, July 25, 2024

Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Region encourages winter recreation safety and preparedness


PORTLAND – As the winter recreation season continues and parts of the Pacific Northwest Region remain blanketed with snow and ice, the Forest Service is urging all visitors to prioritize their safety and preparedness when participating in outdoor activities.

The allure of snowy landscapes, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and other winter sports draw countless individuals to the picturesque lands managed by the Forest Service in Oregon and Washington. Amidst the excitement of winter adventures, it is crucial to be aware of the potential hazards and take proactive measures to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

"Winter recreation in the Pacific Northwest offers breathtaking scenery and thrilling adventures, but it also presents unique challenges and risks," said David Ilse, Assistant Director of Recreation for the Pacific Northwest Region of the Forest Service. "We want everyone to make the most of their outdoor experiences while staying safe and prepared.”

To promote winter recreation safety, the Forest Service emphasizes the following key tips:

Know Before You Go: Research your chosen destination thoroughly. Understand the terrain, weather forecasts, closures, and any potential hazards. Weather conditions can vary greatly, especially in the mountain passes. Review forecasts prior to heading out – the National Weather Service or NOAA websites are great places to start. SNOTEL can be used to view daily and seasonal snow data, by station or basin. Not all Forest Service roads are maintained for winter travel. Check road conditions in advance using Oregon’s or Washington’s real-time travel data.

Dress Appropriately: Dress in layers and wear moisture-wicking clothing to stay warm and dry. Don't forget essential winter gear such as hats, gloves, and waterproof boots.

Carry Essential Gear: Pack essential safety gear, including a map, compass, first-aid kit, flashlight, multi-tool, extra food and water, and a communication device. Do not rely solely on navigational devices. Consider carrying an emergency kit with extra food and water in case you become stranded or avalanche safety equipment if you're traveling in avalanche-prone areas. Bring traction mats, sand, or cat litter in case you get stuck.

Travel in Groups: Whenever possible, travel with companions. Stay together and communicate your plans with someone who isn't joining your outing. In case of emergencies, having others with you can be a lifesaver.

Respect Wildlife and Environment: Be mindful of wildlife habitats and environmental regulations. Stay on designated trails to minimize damage to delicate ecosystems and respect wildlife by observing from a safe distance.

Be Avalanche Aware: If you plan to ski, snowboard, or snowshoe in avalanche terrain, undergo avalanche safety training and carry appropriate equipment such as transceivers, probes, and shovels. Always check avalanche forecasts using resources like the Northwest Avalanche Center and be prepared to adjust your plans accordingly.

Practice Leave No Trace: Always leave the area cleaner than you found it. Pack out all trash and dispose of it properly. Respect wildlife and natural features by avoiding unnecessary disturbances.

Following these guidelines and exercising caution will allow outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest's winter wonderland safely and responsibly.

More information on winter recreation safety tips and preparedness can be found on the Pacific Northwest Region website at Winter Recreation and Safety Tips


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