Yellowstone/Grand Teton News Release: Parks Seek Public Comment on New Winter Use Proposal


Here we go again; another winter is at our doorsteps, and yet another attempt at removing all snowmobile use from Yellowstone National Park (YNP). And even if snowmobile use is not completely eliminated this year, it seems their numbers continue to be reduced with each new ruling and each new plan.

As many of you probably know, on ÔÇ£September 15, 2008, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia vacated and remanded to the NPS the 2007 Final Environmental Impact Statement, 2007 Record of Decision, and 2007 Final Rule. The court decision left in place the 2004 rule, which did not provide for snowmobile or snowcoach in the parks beyond 2007ÔÇØ. This ruling only affected oversnow motorized use. The plowing of numerous roads within the park for wheeled┬ávehicles would continue under this ruling.

Due┬áto┬áthis late┬áin the season of the┬áruling┬ácoming out┬áthat would have eliminated all oversnow motorized use this winter (snowmobiles and snowcoaches), the National Park Service scrambled and came up with a New Temporary Winter Use Plan and Environmental Assessment. This plan has just two alternatives: Alternative 1 – no snowmobiles and no snowcoaches, or Alternative 2 – 318 snowmobiles and 78 snowcoaches per day. So there you have it. You can chose between zero or 318 snowmobiles per day.

There is no reason for SAWS to go into the numerous facts surrounding the issues of snowmobiles in YNP, and how they do not degrade the environment or negatively disturb wildlife anymore than non-motorized recreationists do, as we have provided this information on numerous occasions in the past.

To read more on this new temporary plan, follow the links below:

New Temporary Winter Use Plan and EA

2008 Winter Use Plans Environmental Assessment – website

To submit a comment, SAWS recommends that you go to the 2008 Winter Use Plans Environmental Assessment Comment Webpage (comment deadline November 17, 2008. Comments will only be accepted through this webpage or through USPS mail)

Additional information

In the spring of 2007 SAWS sent out an alert regarding the YNP Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). There were numerous alternatives in this DEIS, from nearly no snowmobile use, all the way up to 1025 snowmobiles allowed per day. SAWS supported the 1025 number. The park preferred number was 720 per day. 720 per day is the same number of snowmobiles per day that were allowed last year for the 2007/2008 winter season. 540 snowmobiles per day was the number that came out in the final rule that would have been implemented in this 2008/2009 winter season.

Here is a link to our previous alert:

Some of you may recall that this whole process to ban snowmobiles from YNP began in 2000 ÔÇ£at the end of the Clinton administration, the National Park Service decides to ban all snowmobiles from the park within three years. Snowmobile manufacturers challenge the decision in court.ÔÇØ In 2001: The Park Service, under the Bush administration, settles with the manufacturers and agrees to re-examine the Clinton-era rules. 2003: The Park Service decides to allow 950 snowmobiles a day into the park, but the machines must employ the latest technology to reduce pollution and sound, and all visitors must enter the park with a commercial guide. The Fund for Animals challenges the decision in court, and a judge reinstates the Clinton-era ban.ÔÇØ

 What is the Obama plan regarding snowmobiles in the park?  SAWS has our opinions, but only time will tell.

Dave Hurwitz
Chairman, Snowmobile of Western States Alliance

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