LARAMIE (WNE) — Motorized recreation in the Snowy Range should go on as usual this winter despite the Mullen Fire’s burn footprint, which covers a large swath of the snowmobile trail network in that area.
Josh Milek, a regional supervisor for the Wyoming Trails Program, said a recent trail assessment revealed that none of the trail corridors were impacted by the fire. Some trail markers were damaged, and a high wind event in September blew down a lot of trees that need clearing out, but otherwise the trails are ready to go.
“The plan is to have all the trails open,” he said.
The Mullen Fire, which started Sept. 17 in the Savage Run Wilderness, burned more than 176,000 acres this fall. It was driven east and south across the forest by strong winds and damaged 66 structures. A winter storm that brought a foot of snow in late October finally allowed for containment.
Aaron Voos, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service, said riders will encounter a different forest when they go off-trail this winter.
“A lot of areas that were previously very thick with vegetation will now have a lot of black-looking toothpicks,” he said.
The burned terrain is more open than in past years, which will change snow patterns and possibly open up new areas for riders. However, hazards exist in the burn area as well.
“A lot of those burned trees are now weakened from the fire, and in high winds, which we get, could come down fairly easily,” Voos said.