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Blue Ribbon Coalition Takes Offensive On Yellowstone Snowmobile Debate


    It should surprise absolutely no one that leaders of the pro-motorized recreation Blue Ribbon Coalition are mobilizing their members to urge the National Park Service to relax guidelines on snowmobile use in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. After all, they have a constituency that's entitled to its opinion.
    However, I have to question their beliefs that the Park Service should ease off from its position that only "best available technology" snowmobiles be used in Yellowstone Yellbison_copyand Grand Teton national parks.

    As testing has shown, even the "BAT" snowmobiles are dirty. Dirtier than they were envisioned, in fact. To say that's OK in a national setting would be shameful. Of course, perhaps it also signals that the industry cannot, or is unwilling, to produce a snowmobile that runs cleaner than those already out on the market.
    In a story that ran today in the Casper Star-Tribune, coalition officials maintain it's "totally ludicrous" for officials in Grand Teton to require BAT snow sleds, as is the case in Yellowstone. They maintain it would harm tourism.
    That's a pretty ludicrous position to me. Noisy, raucous herds of rampaging snowmobiles throttling their way through a national park setting is not going to boost tourism, it's only going to harm it.


It is one thing to point out all the problems of human interaction with the wilderness. It is time to point out the true efforts of most environmental groups and that is to limit access to our wilderness. They Skew the Reports. It is also time to come up with answers needed to alow more people to enjoy our wilderness. I now live in California after living in Jackson Hole in a Tee-Pee for three winters and did not own a car for the eight years I was there. California has some of the strongest polution laws of most states in the US and we have millions and millions of people living on top of each other. Wyoming has some of the worst and maybe the least amount pollution laws in the country and is one of the least populated states in the US, yet it is teaming with wildlife When I talk of living in Jackson Hole to people here in CA they think I am Nuts. They Like it here. Of course none of them are from here as I am, they are from some other part of the country if not from somwhere else in the world. All I hear when I go to Jackson From the "locals" is how the place has changed and they work hard to exclude as many people as they can, except for all the realtors selling over priced and over sized second homes. I wonder how many of the real local kids have moved to CA to escape what they perceive as a harsh environment. Pollution from the motorhomes and other unregulated by smog laws vehicles that enter the park have a greater effect on the wilderness than the very limited winter access Yellowstone will ever get. Up grade the Snow machines and I will still ride the old snowcoachs but I do believe the snow machines will help to keep the cost down and help more people enjoy our wilderness even if they are limited to the same roads as the rest of the 3 million people entering the park during the limited spring summer and fall days the park is open.

I live in West Yellowstone Montana, the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. I was a Yellowstone Park snowmobile guide for two seasons. I watched the buffalo being run up and down the roads by ignorant "bubbleheads". Smoke filled the air at the gate, around Old Faithful and rangers in the pay stations had to wear respirators. On calm days the air is so fowl in town I have to leave. The noise is relentless day and night in town. Intoxicated sled-heads tear all over town spreading noxious fumes and deafening noise. I hate the machines and most of the rude speed demons who ride them. Some of the folks are nice...most are arrogent and selfish with no respect for the town's people. The powerful people in town depend on the snowmobile dollars to fuel their fancy lifestyles that are based on the idea that Yellowstone is here to provide a way to pay for everything they own or owe the bank for. They disregard the noise, smoke and pollution...many of the powerful people are MORMONS. Very sad situation and I am at a loss to understand why snowmobiles are not banned in Yellowstone and in my town of West Yellowstone. Hopefully someday soon they will be banned.....forever.

I was hoping to get some Ideas on how to move more people through Yellowstone with less pollution. One idea I have is to use ski resort lift technology. Move them on people movers and cables. What is happening in West Yellowstone? It always looked out dated and like a goast town to me. Are the local kids moving to CA?

West Yellowstone very much exists solely through the presence of the national park. It is, in effect, subsidized by the park and the park's visitors. It's akin to Dick Cheney preaching the evils of big government while accepting pay (tax dollars) from it over his entire adult life.

I don't think casting aspersions is the answer to solving West Yellowstone's problems. As Alan points out, the town exists solely because of the park, like so many other gateways towns across the national park landscape. They exist to serve the parks with lodgings, restaurants, gift shops, etc., and to deny them a right to earn a livelihood would be wrong. Snowmobiles have long been West Yellowstone's bread and butter because they have been permitted for so long. To expect an overnight seachange is unrealistic. That said, the town is changing. Randy Roberson, who long rented snowmobiles, today offers one of the largest, if not the largest, snowcoach fleets serving Yellowstone. West Yellowstone also is home to a world-class cross-country ski trail system that draws thousands of skiers each winter, as well as the Grizzly Discovery Center, which not only saves problem grizzlies from being put down but also has a great educational mission. As Yellowstone negotiates the snowmobile issue, West Yellowstone will change accordingly. But I think snowmobiles will always be an important economic component for the town, regardless if they're banned from the park, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. If and when the town's residents get fed up with the blue smoke and snowmobilers gunning their way around the town's streets, they'll find a way to deal with it.

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