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BWCA Weather for Ely, Grand Marais, and the Gunflint Trail

Superior National Forest, March 10th 2004

Superior National Forest
March 10, 2004

For immediate release

Contact: Captain Larry Heady 218-626-4309

Illegal Snowmobilers Apprehended in BWCAW

During a snowmobile patrol on Saturday, March 6, Forest Service law
enforcement officers apprehended five men who were illegally snowmobiling
on Crooked Lake, north of Ely, inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area
Wilderness (BWCAW).

Forest Service officers routinely patrol the BWCAW via ski, snowshoe, or
dog sled. This is an effective approach to contact non-motorized visitors and usually effective for contacting snowmobilers that enter the wilderness by mistake. Aircraft backup is sometimes employed along with support from state and local law enforcement. In some instances, officers utilize snowmobiles to apprehend the most aggressive violators.

All five individuals charged in this case are residents, or former
residents, of Ely, including: Barney J. Lakner, 34; David R. Marttila, 40;
Thomas N. Edman, 40; Mark E. Merhar, 38; and Thomas M. Gardiepy, 35. An
investigation is ongoing into other possible related violations.

An escalation of illegal snowmobile use in the BWCAW parallels a general
increase in snowmobile use over the past few years. During the winter of
2002-2003, a total of 659 violations involving illegal snowmobile use in
the wilderness were reported.

Forest Supervisor, Jim Sanders, says: “Snowmobile users are welcome to
enjoy many areas of the Superior National Forest. We do insist that they
follow guidelines that are in place to reduce resource damage and to avoid
conflicts with other users.” For information regarding snowmobile use in
a specific area, visitors can contact the nearest Superior National Forest
Ranger District office.

Violation of Forest Service wilderness regulations is a federal offense.
Maximum penalties for an individual offense may involve a fine of up to
$5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months. Violators who are found
guilty may also be subject to forfeiture of their snowmobile.

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