Yellowstone's Winter Use Plan: Comment Now
Time is running out to comment on Yellowstone's winter-use management plan. The deadline is midnight, local time, tomorrow night. You can comment online at this site.
For what it's worth, here's what I had to say:
When the latest research from Yellowstone's own staff points to problems with today's snowmobile fleet that would adversely impact the park's air, wildlife, soundscapes, employees and visitors, it is not the time to allow 720 snowmobiles per day into the park during the winter season.
These studies have shown that even BAT snowmobiles cannot adequately protect the park's environment.
Sadly, this issue has been politicized above science, which should be the primary gauge used to measure the impacts of recreation on our national parks. It has been studied too thoroughly to justify the park's preferred alternative.
If there were no other way to provide winter access to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, then perhaps the adverse impacts of snowmobiles could be overlooked. However, that is not the case.
In his National Centennial Initiative message to the president, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne stated in part that, "The 21st century National Park Service will be energized to preserve parks and welcome visitors. Stewardship and science will guide decisions...."
To that National Park Service Director Mary Bomar added, "... more remains to be done to fulfill a common American dream to leave things better for those who follow us."
In light of the science at hand, in light of the statements of Secretary Kempthorne and Director Bomar, I can't understand how Yellowstone officials can back a preferred alternative that their own scientists have said, unequivocally, would jeopardize the park, its resources, its employees, its visitors.
The snowcoach option would be a wiser alternative, but only as long as snowcoaches are required to have BAT.