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On. Feb. 16, I had the privilege of attending the fund-raising third annual “I Ride with James” Snowmobile and Poker Run.
I am so proud of the Sizemore family. They have turned the tragic loss of their son into something positive for our area by bringing avalanche awareness to a forefront. They have also been able to raise money for equipment needed by search and rescue to assist in helping others.
They have taken on this mission with passion, jumping throughout hoops with the U.S. Forest Service to obtain all permits needed and also insurance even though they met with some resistance at our local office in the beginning.
I was pleasantly surprised when I looked up that Sunday to see two USFS personnel in their freshly laundered, green “pickle suits.” I thought they were there to show their support and good will.
But, no! They were there to write tickets to snowmobilers without current registrations.
I was pleased that the 6-year-old on a Kitty Kat snowmobile was not ticketed! Many riders and residents of the area stated that they rarely see USFS personnel up there and never on snowmobiles.
As they say, Karma’s a bitch. They rode up on the trail, a trail groomed by 12 people earlier in the week and a trail more than 135 participants would eventually ride, and they got lost and stuck! They rode newer fancy machines and had all the latest gear our tax dollars could buy, but they lacked the riding skills necessary. They ultimately compromised the safety and welfare of other riders as well as themselves. They needed to be rescued, and even as their sleds were being dug out by other riders, the female officer was trying to check registrations.
We have a wonderful search and rescue group and a great Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office available whenever needed. Has anyone from the USFS ever showed up to help? Not that I am aware of.
I know firsthand that this is not the first time USFS personnel have been lost while on the job. It was, however, the most callous, underhanded act by a person in a position of power at a charity event that I have ever seen.