Park Service Moves Forward With 318 Snowmobile Limit in Yellowstone

| October 19, 2009 | 0 Comments

Land UsePOCATELLO, ID (October 19) – In a move that was unfortunately expected, the Park Service last Thursday released an Environmental Assessment (EA) that allows only 318 snowmobiles daily into Yellowstone this winter. This allocation is not sufficient to provide for a viable winter economy in gateway communities, and many visitors could be denied access.

It should be noted that the Park Service’s 2007 decision, following the more robust Environmental Impact Statement process, determined that 540 daily snowmobile entries was an appropriate number. Jack Welch, BlueRibbon Special Projects Consultant, stated, “More people should be allowed in the Park, not less. People will be turned away this winter. This is not because there is a biological or scientific reason to do so; it is because winter visitors are caught in a game of politics and 318 is a convenient number between 0 and 540.”

There are a few brighter spots in the EA. The decision does allow 25 snowmobiles per day with no best available technology (BAT) or guiding requirement to travel both directions on the Grassy Lake Road, providing access to the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. This accommodates historical activity for snowmobilers who unload at Flagg Ranch and ride the Grassy Lakes Road to Idaho, Island Park, and even West Yellowstone.

What will happen next? BlueRibbon and its pro-access partners in the snowmobile community will continue to review and work with the Park Service to provide a long term solution for “Winter Use” in Yellowstone. In the meantime, we will review our options on this EA decision. The next step in the process is for the Park Service to create an implementing rule and have it published. That rule would be the governing regulation for Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks for the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 seasons. Finally, there remains the possibility that a courtroom development could somehow change things. As always, we will continue to post updates at www.saveyellowstonepark.com.

Remember, Yellowstone will open to the 2009-2010 season on December 15th!

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Category: Midwest - Access Issues

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