Members of the Albany County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Forest Service officials met Monday to discuss a course of action after recent sledding accidents at the old Happy Jack ski area.

No formal decisions were made at the meeting, but spokesmen said the agencies would work closely going forward to make the public aware of the risks inherent in using the area for winter activities.

“We just kind of went back to the drawing board to see what was realistic and what we could do, so we’re still working on those specifics,” says Forest Service spokesman Aaron Voos.

The Albany County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release Dec. 31 that they were working with the Forest Service to review the possibility of closing the area to sledding.

Undersheriff Robert DeBree said Tuesday that the agencies’ focus has shifted to providing information as a way to help the public stay safe.

“We’re working hand-in-hand on this, which is great,” says DeBree.  “The meeting went very well.  We just tried to come together with a wide variety of different ideas and tried to put them in action.”

Voos says it’s important for the public to realize the old Happy Jack ski area is not actively managed.

“As it is an unmanaged slope, people are free to recreate as they choose there,” says Voos.  “Everyone has a different comfort level, everyone has a different level of risk that they’re willing to accept.  You need to realize what you’re getting into.”

Voos says that with high-use weekends coming up for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Presidents’ Day, the Forest Service will work jointly with the Sheriff’s Office to provide additional information to the public regarding safety and usage information.

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