Alta Ski Area offers free skiing

As part of Alta Ski Area's commitment to the National Ski Area Association's (NSAA) Model for Growth, new skiers can look forward to some extra free time on the slopes as Alta Ski Area presents it's Ski Free after 3 Program, making a quick trip up the mountain for a few trail runs easier for the first-time skier. The program, in its third year, is also for the "trying it again" skier, or for the skier who needs a few warm up runs. Every day during the 2004-2005 season, skiing will be absolutely free after 3 p.m. on Alta's Sunnyside detachable triple lift.

Sunnyside provides access to beginner skiing in Alta's Albion Basin. This lift, installed four years ago, has proven to be a wonderful tool for skiers just starting. In addition to slowing down for load and unload, the lift gets skiers up into the alpine majesty of Alta's scenic Albion Basin, and then gives them a mile of great learning terrain back to the base.

Skiers of all skill levels are invited to participate in this program, making it perfect for parents looking for an after school activity or skiers wanting to perfect the Telemark turn on beginner terrains before tackling the intermediate slopes. For the latest conditions and events visit

Dedicated Hunters must complete Conservation Course by Jan. 31

Mule deer hunters, interested in joining Utah's Dedicated Hunter program are advised that they must complete a wildlife conservation course and submit an application no later than Jan. 31. This deadline is two months earlier than last year's April 1 application deadline.

After paying program registration fees and completing additional requirements, participants receive a deer hunting permit for the region of their choice and a chance to hunt all three general seasons in that region during the three-year program. The Wildlife Conservation course can be taken online at the Dedicated Hunter website ( This online course takes about 45 minutes to complete.

A few classroom courses will also be offered in late January, with classroom locations soon to be announced. Robin Thomas, volunteer projects coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, commented, "There are several dates dedicated hunters must remember in order to participate in the program. To simplify things, we decided to move the enrollment date to Jan. 31, which is the end of the big game application period and a date that's already on their minds."

After completing the course, hunters must pay their program fee ($195 for most residents and $1,032 for most nonresidents) by Jan. 31. The fee includes a participant's deer hunting permits, for the region of their choice, during the three years they're in the program.

More information about the program is available on pages 25 and 26 of the 2005 Utah Big Game Proclamation and at on the web. Individuals with questions may call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR's Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.

Thomas noted,"The program provides hunters extra deer hunting opportunities in the region they want to hunt and helps them give back to Utah's wildlife by working on wildlife conservation projects."
Access to Wildlife Lands in Utah Guide Now Available

A guide to hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, hiking and other opportunities on more than 450,000 acres of land owned or leased by the Division of Wildlife Resources in Utah is now available for recreationists.

The 144-page Access to Wildlife Lands in Utah guide is available for $9.95, plus tax, at all Division of Wildlife Resources offices. It's also available in Salt Lake City at the Natural Resources Map & Bookstore, 1594 W. North Temple.

John Fairchild, Habitat Conservation Coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, commented, "This is something every wildlife enthusiast in Utah will want. In addition to hunting and fishing opportunities, Division lands also provide great opportunities to watch and photograph wildlife, hike and just enjoy the outdoors. The guide lets people know where these areas are, how to access them and what times of year they're open to visitors." For more information call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the Natural Resources Map & Bookstore at (801) 537-3320.

Snowshoe Star Party scheduled

The Swaner Nature Preserve and Utah Skies are teaming up to do a Snowshoe / Star Party event Sat., Jan. 8th. Participants will take a guided tour of the preserve under a star filled sky and then return to gaze upon some of the wonders of the winter sky though some very high end telescopes. This event begins at 8 p.m., but space is limited. Contact the Swaner Nature Preserve for more information and reservations at (435)649-1767 or by e-mail at

For the latest sky watching events and activities, visit and sign up for their free weekly newsletter.

AAA Tips for Surviving "Pothole Season"

The return of winter weather brings snow, ice, sleet and potholes. Rolayne Fairclough, AAA Utah spokeswoman, commented, "The appearance of potholes brings the potential of damage to vehicle suspension components and the possibility of costly repairs." AAA offers the following recommendations to help protect vehicles against the jarring experience of a pothole encounter:

* Maintain full air pressure in all tires to provide as much cushion as possible between the pothole and the rim of the tire. Proper inflation levels are usually provided on the wall of the tire.

* Watch for potholes by leaving plenty of space between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Alert drivers have plenty of time to avoid potholes. Before swerving around a pothole be sure to check surrounding traffic.

* If the pothole can't be avoided, slow down. Hitting a pothole at high speed increases the chance of damage to tires, wheels, shocks, struts or springs. High speed also increases the chance of losing control of the vehicle, especially if a series of potholes occurs on a curved roadway.

* When driving over a pothole-filled road, hold the steering wheel firmly to avoid losing control.

* Don't brake when directly over a pothole. Applying the brakes causes the car's weight to shift to the front of the wheel and can increase damage from the impact.

* Beware of water that may be concealing a deep pothole. Potholes are caused by the freezing and thawing of water as it works its way into the pavement. Only warm weather and the return of road crews signal the end of the pothole season.

Fairclough noted, "Hitting even one especially severe pothole could alter the alignment of a wheel and cause uneven tire wear. Uneven tire wear means the tire will need to be replaced sooner than necessary causing a needless expense."

AAA recommends that motorists who suspect their vehicle may have been damaged by a pothole have it inspected and serviced as soon as possible. A broken shock or strut from a pothole encounter could alter the steering and handling of a vehicle, and create dangers when driving at higher speeds or in tight corners. Broken suspension components should be remedied immediately.

Established over 100 years ago, AAA offers a wide array of automotive, travel, insurance and financial services. AAA Utah serves more than 120,000 members and has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers since it was founded.

Winter Activities await

With the winter season now underway, recreationists are taking advantage of snow-related activities in the Uinta National Forest and are encouraged to be aware of safety issues and potential hazards on these public lands.

To ensure that visitors remain safe while enjoying outdoor winter recreation, visitors are advised to be aware of weather conditions, and inform family or friends of their plans. Avalanche danger can be extremely high and must be taken seriously. To find the latest avalanche information, visit on the web.

Riders, skiers, and snowshoers heading to in the back-country should be familiar with the area they are visiting, are strongly encouraged to notify someone else of their plans, and be aware of avalanche conditions. Recreationists should be aware of signs of hypothermia, frostbite, and dehydration.

Miles of groomed trails are available for novice and expert snowmobilers in the Uinta National Forest, with a popular network of snowmobiler trails located near Strawberry Reservoir. Maps of trails and basin areas are available through the Heber, Pleasant Grove, and Spanish Fork Ranger Districts. However, there must be at least 12 inches of snow on the ground before snowmobiles may be ridden on trails.

Various cross-country ski and snowshoe trails are also available. The hike to Scout Falls on the Aspen Grove Trail on Mt. Timpanogas is popular for snowshoers. Strawberry Reservoir is also a well-liked area for snowshoers and skiers. The Summit Trail to Daniels Summit is another popular cross-country ski trail, which is not used by snowmobiles.

Winter camping is available at selected campgrounds, including the Diamond Fork Campground, accessed from Route 6. Visitors are advised however, that snowmobiling and ATVing are not allowed in the area, due to rehabilitation projects underway along the Diamond Fork System. Winter camping is also available at day-use areas and picnic sites along the North Fork of American Fork Canyon. Campers to these areas are required to obtain a free permit from the Uinta National Forest.

Recreation maps and other information can be obtained at local Forest Service offices. Visitors are encouraged to ride responsibly, respect the rights of others, and be aware of litter.