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Conservation Groups Will Head to Court Over Yellowstone Snowmobile Decision


A day after the Park Service announced its decision on snowmobiles in Yellowstone, six conservation groups said they would challenge the decision in court. NPS Photo by Jim Peaco.

Six conservation groups are condemning the National Park Service's decision regarding snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park, saying it goes against the core values of the national park system. To right that wrong, the groups said they would seek judicial relief.

In a joint press release, The Wilderness Society, National Parks Conservation Association, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council, Winter Wildlands Alliance, and the Sierra Club said the decision to allow as many as 540 snowmobiles a day into Yellowstone goes against the Park Service's own scientific studies and recommendations and will lead to "noise, dirtier air and frequent disturbance of wildlife."

"That choice ignores the National Park Service’s overarching mandate to give highest priority to conservation of national park resources," the organizations said, adding that they hoped Congress would exercise its oversight authority over the Park Service.

“The past four seasons have shown that Yellowstone’s winter visitors are increasingly embracing modern snow coaches and the health of the park has improved because of it,” said Amy McNamara of the Greater
Yellowstone Coalition. “The National Park Service’s decision makes a U-turn on that progress and will lead to unacceptable impacts in our first national park.”

In their release the groups noted that the Park Service disclosed in a study accompanying its decision that allowing 540 snowmobiles into Yellowstone each day will dramatically expand-to 63 square miles-the portion of the park where visitors can expect to hear snowmobile noise during more than half of the visiting day. That would be a three-fold increase from the current portion of the park where noise intrudes on the visitor’s experience during at least half the day.

The groups also noted that in its Final Environmental Impact Study accompanying its decision, the Park Service notes that Congress established the National Park Service in 1916 in part due to a recognition that the American people “wanted places to go that were undisturbed and natural and which offered a retreat from the rigors and stresses of everyday life.”

“National Parks are supposed to receive the highest level of resource protection for the benefit of wildlife and future generations of visitors. The Park Service’s plan undermines this conservation commitment to the American public in its National Park System. This decision would set a dangerous and unacceptable precedent for the entire National Park System and that is why we will continue to work for a better decision,” said the NPCA's Tim Stevens.


Yada, yada, yada.
Guess the NPS will just have to raise fees even more to cover court costs...go ahead, shoot yourself in the foot!

Time to go sleddin'!!
Here's mine:
BTW, snowmobiling DOES allow me to go places to go that are "undisturbed and natural and which offer a retreat from the rigors and stresses of everyday life.”...I AM HANDICAPPED...I have few opportunities to enjoy the wilderness.
So stop trying to lock up the parks for only the able-bodied. Frickin' selfish wackos....

Every winter I am in the north eastern cascades on my sled exploring some great wild country.
I do meet folks out there doing the same, though it does not happen often.
The picture above in Kurt's post does not look like folks wanting to explore some undisturbed and natural back country.
(For your viewing pleasure)

NICE sled Random Walker!!
BTW, that picture was taken where all the sleds are bunched up after entering the park, they are more spread out than that, usually. Especially further into the park.

Why is it that the idea of snowcoaches isn't being mentioned? It is my understanding that they provide much the same benefits of snowmobiles, but without the problems...
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared towhat lies within us." - Emerson
President, CHS SPEAK (CHS Students Promoting Environmental Action & Knowledge)
Founder and President, CHS Campus Greens
Come be a part of the ridiculously awesome youth movement for clean energy!

Y'all need to chill and live happy. Snowmobiles are fun, cross country skiing is fun, snowcoaches are fun. Live and let live and de-stress, people! The sun will come up in the east in the morning, life is too short.

Do y'all ever enjoy the parks, or just worry yourselves to death over 'em?
Jus think of how many years are taken off your life with worry. Do ya really think the bison give a rat's a$$ over snowmobiles? They're just worried about their next meal. They're probably pretty used to the noise. In the meantime, let's LIVE and just LIVE! RIDE those snowmobiles (looks like a LOT of FUN), SWISH them skis, let's party dude!!

Ziggy, I don't think considering the impact our actions have necessarily qualifies as "worry". There's a lot more to life than fun and parties. We must be mindful the consequences of our actions. "Live and let live and de-stress, people!" Your type of fun is incompatible with wilderness values and ethics; I escape the city not to hear sounds I can hear in the city. I get enough stress from engine noise in the city; I don't need it in the wilderness. Speaking of consequences, a main reason snowmobiles shouldn't be allowed in wilderness is because of the hazardous chemicals they carry and leak, especially gasoline. You should check out the Material Safety Data Sheet for unleaded gasoline. It shows at least fifteen hazardous chemicals occurring in various amounts. These include benzene (up to 5% by volume), toluene (up to 35% by volume), naphthalene (up to 1% by volume), trimethylbenzene (up to 7% by volume), MTBE (up to 18% by volume) and about 10 others. So your fun has an impact on other humans and lifeforms. I believe that you have enough spaces to have your fun. Let's save some spots so that others can have a quieter type of fun. Thank you.

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