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State of Wyoming Heads Back to Court To Argue Higher Snowmobile Numbers in Yellowstone National Park


Wyoming officials, clearly unhappy with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's take on snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park, have gone back to court to bump up the numbers all the way to 740 per day.

According to The Associated Press, six members of the congressional delegations from Wyoming, Idaho and Montana also have asked Secretary Salazar to reconsider his decision to push daily snowmobile limits back to 318 per day for the next two winters while Yellowstone officials work once again on devising a satisfactory winter-use plan.

Wyoming's legal efforts stand only to exacerbate the costly ($10 million and counting) political mire the National Park Service has been in ever since the Clinton administration moved to ban recreational snowmobile use in Yellowstone. While the state might find a friendly ruling from U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer, who time and again has come down on the side of snowmobiling in the park, those who oppose higher numbers of snowmobilers in the park have an equally friendly judge in U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington, D.C., who has ridiculed recent Park Service efforts to regulate snowmobiles.


Cue the circus. Wyoming needs to get out of the business of trying to manage federal lands. If they want recreational snowmobiling, that's what state lands are for.

As one who rides snowmachines in Alaska I appreciate the fact that this activity is banned in the wilderness section of Denali Park and I advocate that it be banned in all sections of the park and preserve. There are plenty of beautiful places to ride in Alaska and we do not have to have every acre of the state available. I enjoy riding snowmachines and I also enjoy winter hiking in still and quiet park. I appreciate the National Parks and realize there are many uses for which they should not be subjected. I cannot drive my car in Denali and that is OK for it is for the greater good that traffic is limited. I imagine there are many places in Wyoming that fellow snowmachiners can enjoy without degrading our first National Park.

I have to agree with the last comment only I would take it further and say the 318 that are allowed should be group haulers and be run llike a bus service through out the park and people could get on and off at different points and x-country ski or snow shoe from the stops. That would make the park more ego friendly.

we toured yellowstone this past jan. in a snowcoach and we loved it. these parks land are set aside for public use , but after being there and seeing the snowmobiles first hand i think the number should be reduced. i noticed all the oil and fluids running out of those machines on the snow and it concerned me.i also noticed that most of the snowmobile tours did not obey the speed limit. i do think we should be allowed in there in the winter and i think the best solution would be to just keep the roads open for vehicles and let the people drive them selves through the main roads. thank you.

Bearguy, Thank you for your insightful statement. Parks are special.


Plowing the roads would be a very expensive, harmful proposition. Earlier posts discussed the cost of just keeping the East entrance safe for tracked vehicles in the winter: even that isn't cost-effective. Packed snow for snowmobiles & snow coaches makes for much easier animal movement than unpacked snow, which unnaturally guides wildlife out of the park. Plowed roads would greatly alter winter movements and predator-prey dynamics.

I regret that when I was in grad school in the 1980s, I didn't have the time or money to visit Yellowstone in the winter. You could ski in, with your luggage carried in on snow coaches, stay in a lodge, and spend your days skiing out to geysers and other winter features.

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