Action Alert: Kapka Sno-Park

2-2-09 Update:
The comment period for the proposed Kapka Butte Sno-Park is officially closed. Thanks to the many people who took the time to comment. 

1-28-09 Update:

There are just a few more days to comment on the proposed Kapka sno-park. Taking the step of voicing your opposition to the Kapka proposal as it is currently outlined is critical to opening a dialogue about everything from improved parking at Dutchman Flat to turning Tumalo Mountain into a non-motorized zone.

If you don't think there's a need for better management of the conflicts between motorized and non-motorized users, just ask our sponsors. They've all been threatened by members of the snowmobile community. Even McMenamins, the venue for last night's film fest, received a threat–and they're not even a sponsor, just the nice folks who rented us the space.

Please take a moment to tell the Forest Service that the Kapka proposal should not move forward without a better plan for managing the issues that already exist.


The Forest Service is proposing the construction of a massive sno-park at Kapka Butte. This will add more snowmobiles to the Century Drive corridor but will not address the safety, parking, and access needs of skiers and snowshoers.

We need you to comment on this proposal, voicing your opposition to this new sno-park and your support for equitable accommodations for non-motorized users.

Please email the Forest Service with your comments today. You’ll find supporting talking points below. Send your email to:
(Please put “Kapka Scoping Comments” in the subject line of your email and cc:

You’ll find more details below. Thanks for your support!

The Details:
The Deschutes National Forest is currently seeking public comment regarding the Kapka Butte Snowmobile Expansion Project, a new sno-park at Kapka Butte (the intersection of Century Drive and the Sunriver turnoff).

The proposed Kapka Butte parking area is 100 feet wide and 1,600 feet long–twice the size of the existing Wanoga snowmobile parking lot. A lot this size will easily accommodate more than 125 trucks and trailers, providing capacity for 250 to 375 additional snowmobiles in the Century Drive corridor.

In developing the Kapka Butte proposal, the Forest Service has retracted the long-standing plan to close Dutchman Sno-Park to snowmobile off-loading, and has ignored the need and requirement to address inevitable user conflicts that will accompany such a massive increase in motorized use.

Our Viewpoint:
The proposed Kapka sno-park will increase existing conflicts between motorized and non-motorized users. These conflicts not only include physical proximity and safety issues, but also noise and air pollution, and parking and access issues.

Although the Kapka proposal includes the construction of trails for non-motorized users, most winter recreationists seeking a quiet winter experience are unlikely to want to spend their time near such a massive snowmobile staging area. Additionally, these areas offer no access to suitable terrain for backcountry skiers or snowshoers seeking more of a challenge.

Most importantly, we believe that any proposal for increased motorized access in the Century Drive corridor must be balanced by equitable accommodations for non-motorized users.

Therefore, we strongly oppose the construction of the Kapka Butte Sno-Park.

Our Solution:
As many of you are aware, we proposed the creation of the Tumalo Backcountry Recreation Zone (BRZ), a non-motorized zone surrounding Tumalo Mountain (submitted to Deschutes National Forest Supervisor John Allen on May 8, 2008). The BRZ proposal defines a defensible non-motorized zone that encompasses Tumalo Mountain and the Dutchman Flat region.

The goal of the BRZ is to enhance accessible backcountry recreation, increase tourism opportunities, and provide fair and reasonable mitigation for the impacts associated with an increase in snowmobiles in the Deschutes National Forest. The BRZ still allows snowmobile access to the high country beyond Tumalo while providing a quiet, safe zone for non-motorized users.

You can view the proposal and a map of the BRZ by clicking the Tumalo Backcountry Rec Zone link on the right side of this page.

Your Role:
If you value quiet winter recreation, believe you have a right to the same access opportunities as motorized users, and view Tumalo Mountain as a valuable resource, the Forest Service needs to hear your voice.

We understand many of you have signed a petition supporting the development of a non-motorized zone surrounding Tumalo Mountain. We truly appreciate your effort. But to make this a reality, we also need your support at every step along the way. Opposing the Kapka sno-park is one of those steps.

Please write to the Forest Service stating your opposition to the Kapka Butte Sno-Park proposal and your support for the Tumalo Backcountry Recreation Zone. The deadline for public comment is February 1, 2009.

Email your comments to:
(Please put “Kapka Scoping Comments” in the subject line of your email and cc:

Or mail your comments to:
Shane Jeffries, District Ranger
Bend-Ft. Rock Ranger District
1230 NE 3rd St., Suite A-262
Bend, OR, 97701

What to Say:
Key talking points in opposition of the Kapka Sno-Park:
Safety and user conflicts:
  • I cannot support an expansion of snowmobile parking capacity without mitigation to address conflicts with non-motorized recreational users. Establishment of the Tumalo Backcountry Recreation Zone helps address these issues.
  • The size of the proposed Kapka sno-park is far too biased toward snowmobiles and therefore doesn’t balance the needs of all user groups.
  • Kapka Butte will have little value as a snowshoe destination due to its proximity to a major snowmobile staging area. Enhanced snowshoe opportunities on Tumalo Mountain would better serve these winter travelers. Likewise, the dog-friendly ski trails near Wanoga Sno-Play area are likely to be more suited to these users.
Access and Parking:
  • The Kapka proposal does not include the closure of Dutchman Sno-Park to snowmobile off-loading, as originally planned. This is another example of the Forest Service’s failure to adequately accommodate multiple user groups.
  • There are no plans to manage the increased snowmobile traffic that the Kapka sno-park will bring. Additionally, the current non-motorized zones around Tumalo are difficult for the Forest Service to manage and for users to understand. On the other hand, backcountry users don’t require management or policing.
Noise and Air Pollution
  • Snowmobiles can already be heard from all Century Drive recreation areas. Increasing the number of snowmobiles in the area without mitigating this impact is unfair to the thousands of non-motorized users who use these public lands.

Key talking points in support of the Tumalo Backcountry Recreation Zone:
Area Growth:
  • As the Bend area population continues to expand, changes are necessary to accommodate the increased numbers in all user groups. Snowmobiles already have access to hundreds of miles of trails and huge tracts of land.
  • Skiers and snowboarders must have an alternative to paying for lift tickets or buying a snowmobile in order to pursue their activity. Skiing is an activity that should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their economic status.
  • Compared to the cost of building a sno-park, the cost of implementing a non-motorized recreation zone is insignificant.
  • Backcountry recreation opportunities support local businesses and tourism in the Bend area.
Have a question or comment?
Email us at

Thanks for your time and support!