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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Vermeer

Part 3 of 7: Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center (GNFAC) receives motorized-focused grant

Updated: Jun 20

Annual Avalanche Alliance sweepstakes benefits motorized community, rider safety

The 2022 Avalanche Alliance sweepstakes provided seven grants ranging from $2,100 to $10,000 to national Avalanche Centers in support of motorized-focused projects and programs to improve motorized snow safety.

This seven-part series details what’s happening at Avalanche Centers across the country and how the sweepstakes is strengthening the motorized snowsports community's connection with Avalanche Centers by supporting the work they are doing for snowmobilers, snowbikers and more.

Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center (GNFAC) - Bozeman, Montana
Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center (GNFAC) - Bozeman, Montana

Grant amount: $5,000

For the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center (GNFAC), this year’s $5,000 grant will expand avalanche education and daily forecasting for the Centennial Mountains of Eastern Idaho near Island Park, Idaho.

In its fifth year of operating in Island Park, the GNFAC currently provides public access to:

  • A trip planning page with details on riding safe in the mountains

  • Two new weather stations, one on the summit of Sawtelle Peak measuring temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, and a second one at a lower elevation measuring snowfall

  • A daily avalanche forecast, which outlines the day's concerns and advisories

  • A public observation page for current observations and mountain weather data

Now, with the help of this year’s $5,000 Avalanche Alliance sweepstakes grant, the GNFAC forecasters will also be able to provide a daily avalanche danger rating for the motorized zone – a popular snowmobile and snowbike riding area just 20 miles away from West Yellowstone, Montana.

Doug Chabot at the Sawtelle Peak weather station
Doug Chabot at the Sawtelle Peak weather station

“Along with the avalanche forecasting, being able to put out danger ratings means we are there. We are going out and looking at the snow and giving the public our professional assessment,” said GNFAC Director, Doug Chabot.

For the first time, the motorized zone will get its own color for the day, he said.

“They’re getting an actual danger rating of the area and a narrative explaining why it is what it is,” Chabot said. “Everyone should read the advisories. It is essential; it’s absolutely essential.”

The grant will also help pay salaries and reimburse travel costs for the forecasters traveling to and from the motorized zone gathering snowpack field data, Chabot added.

“The whole goal here is to save lives and not have people die by giving them the information they need,” he said. “We saw the need and the community asked for it, so we worked toward providing more education. With a little money, you can do a lot.”

GNFAC Staff Forecaster Dave Zinn digging a pit with Brian DiLenge (Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation)
GNFAC Staff Forecaster Dave Zinn digging a pit with Brian DiLenge (Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation)

While spreading the love is a big piece of the sweepstakes, building up the Island Park community’s support has been critical in “getting people to know we exist,” Chabot said, adding that the need for avalanche education will continue to grow.

“The observations page – linked here – where people can write in what they’re seeing out there, really helps us,” Chabot said. “People just want to know if it’s dangerous, and what they should do on the mountain, and that’s our job to tell them.”

Doug Chabot triggering a small avalanche below Mt. Jefferson
Doug Chabot triggering a small avalanche below Mt. Jefferson

“Look at these areas where we go to ride,” Chabot added. “People are from all over, and they travel to these places, so they will directly benefit from this. It’s not just the locals, if you travel to ride snowmobiles, you’re going to benefit.”

With Director Chabot retiring at the end of the 2023-24 season, he said the GNFAC is committed to continuing and growing its program into the future.

“The need is there, and people want it,” he said, “so we’re going to concentrate on giving that to them.”

Sawtelle Peak weather station
Sawtelle Peak weather station

Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center


The 2023 Avalanche Alliance Sweepstakes, which closes December 10, 2023, features a customized grand prize 2023 Polaris Patriot Boost RMK Khaos Slash 165 2.75" upgraded with a custom ArcticFX Graphics wrap, IceAge Performance Rails, HELLFIRE wheels, STRYKER A-Arms and ELEVATE spindles, SLP MoHawk skis, head, silencer and clutch kit, ZRP master cylinder cover, a lightweight rotor, titanium bolt kit and billet steering post, Pro Armor Bumpers, Exit shocks, Zbroz pull handle, Zbroz stirrups and Seat Concepts seat. First, second and third prizes include a Marlon Xplore PRO II sled deck, KLIM head-to-toe winter package, an Arctic Cat ZR 200 and an Ortovox safety package.

Now in its fourth year, the Avalanche Alliance sweepstakes unites snowmobilers, snowbikers, manufacturers, avalanche centers and riders in a collective effort to endorse avalanche safety initiatives. Proceeds from the 2023 sweepstakes will be awarded to Avalanche Centers in support of motorized-focused programs with the goal to join forces and raise funds for avalanche education scholarships while expanding avalanche forecasts in popular motorized areas across the nation.

For more info on the 2023 Avalanche Alliance sweepstakes, with donations starting at $25, visit:

About Avalanche Alliance

Avalanche Alliance’s mission is to raise avalanche awareness and improve backcountry safety for motorized users. With a full spectrum of focuses ranging from sponsoring beacon check stations to supporting avalanche educators, Avalanche Alliance is at the forefront of avalanche safety improvement. For more information, visit


AIARE was established in 1998 as a nonprofit educational organization to address the need for a nationally recognized curriculum for avalanche education in the USA. Since that time AIARE has developed research-based Professional and Recreational avalanche training for backcountry users in the United States, South America and Europe. AIARE’s Recreational Program is represented by over 115 course providers and650 AIARE-trained instructors; the Professional Program designs and instructs workplace safety training for professionals working in the avalanche industry. Through these programs, AIARE educates over 19,000 students annually.

In 2017, AIARE created an official Motorized Program aimed to increase educational resources, participation and awareness in the motorized community. Working alongside experts in the snowmobile community, we’ve trained 48 snowmobilers to professional instructor standards, and separately 52 have received professional certificates to date. AIARE’s created motorized-specific training for recreational users is available across the US west.

AIARE’s partnership with the Live Large University (LLU) scholarship fund is intended to support motorized backcountry riders. While AIARE has a robust network of 115 providers in the US, currently 9 providers exclusively teach motorized-specific programming. The Live Large University scholarship’s goal is to increase the number of trained motorized professionals, improving the AIARE network's ability to serve the motorized community. The LLU fund awards full and partial scholarships to students taking AIARE Motorized Recreational Courses, PRO 1, PRO 2 and Instructor Training Courses. For more information, visit

About KLIM

KLIM Technical Riding Gear is a global leader in designing, developing, sourcing and distributing the most advanced powersports apparel for snowmobile, motorcycle and off-road riding. Utilizing the world’s most premium technologies in waterproof, breathable, durable and comfortable materials, KLIM offers gear for the most demanding riders. Driven by the continual feedback and input from dedicated test pilots and passionate customers, KLIM strives to do one thing above all – enhance the riding experience. For more information, visit


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