WINTERSPORTS -- Seven snowmobilers recently were cited for riding in the Mission Mountain Wilderness and two others were cited for entering another protected area in national forests of Montana.
The snowmobilers that entered the designated wilderness, where motorized vehicles are prohibited, were each fined $325.
According to the Flathead Beacon, violating the policy carries a maximum penalty of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization or imprisonment for not more than six months or both.
Flathead National Forest officers said they observed snowmobile tracks entering the wilderness area while patrolling the Mission Mountain Wilderness boundary. Four of the snowmobilers were from Kalispell and the other three were from the Polson area.
Forest Service enforcement also cited two snowmobile operators who violated the Badger-Two Medicine closure area on the Lewis and Clark National Forest.
One man from Raymond, Alberta stated he knew the area had been closed in the past but that someone told him it was no longer closed to snowmobiles. He was cited for operating a snowmobile in violation of the Motor Vehicle Use Map.
A man from Cut Bank drove his snowmobile past two blaze orange boundary signs advising that the area was closed to motor vehicles, officers said in their report.
Both citations included a $175 fine.
“Snowmobilers have a responsibility to know where they can and cannot operate on Forest Service land,” said Teresa Wenum, conservation education coordinator with the Flathead National Forest.
The Forest Service provides free maps showing areas that are open to motorized travel and recreation.