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Reader Participation Day: Is It Appropriate For Artillery To Be Used to Control Avalanches In Yellowstone National Park?


Do you think it's appropriate, and in the best interests of its mandate, for the National Park Service to be using artillery to control avalanches in Yellowstone National Park?

Earlier this week we touched on this issue in discussing what the park does to ensure safe passage over Sylvan Pass for a small number of snowmobilers who enter Yellowstone via the park's east entrance.

There's no question that human safety is a key mission of the Park Service. But do you agree that the agency should be using artillery to try to maintain avalanche safety over Sylvan Pass, or would it be more logical, and in holding with the National Park Service Organic Act, for park officials to put their foot down and say it's too costly, too damaging, and too risky to provide the service for a limited number of visitors?


Of course it's appropriate.  After all, isn't the most important NPS function keeping all the politicians, their special interests and financial supporters happy?

My question is, why is this being treated substantially different from other large parks: Yosemite and Grand Canyon? Yosemite closes the road to Tuolomne Meadows until the snow clears. Grand Canyon North Rim is closed every winter until the snow clears. In both cases, we're talking a May/June timeframe.

So why is Yellowstone different? Close the road until the snow clears.

The limited amount of visitors may make their only visits during the winter. Some people enjoy that time of year. Most of the park is not accessable in winter and making this part available to users is prudent.

Have you watched Ice Road Truckers on the History Channel?  In Alaska on the Dalton Highway they used artillery to control avalnaches.  This guy drove along and checked the snow, and if he thought there was an avalanche risk, he shut that part of the road down, got out the little canon and shot shells into the snow making it slide off the slope.  It was controlled.  They had equipment standing by to clean the road when he was done.

But that was not inside the world's first national park, was it Chip?

Yes if this road is to be opened at all in the near future, then avalanche control now is a good thing.  Otherwise, the wait to open it when all avalanche danger is over will be a long one.  Also, the snowmobilers/snowcoaches that enter from the East gate are bringing much needed financial benefits to the local economy.

You are a true instigator.
Tell us what you think.
Come on, lets have it.

I like Chip
I say let them mount a little cannon on the hood and have at it.

(just kidding)

"Yellowstone is just as "special" as Glacier.  Their wonderful habitat should be protected as should the safety of the National Park Service and any services they employ.  In my opinion, these two matters totally justify outlawing the use of artillery in trying to control avalanches.
IF those reasons we not enough, the absolute absurdity of the costs associated this effort says it all.  "During the recently concluded winter season, just 115 snowmobiles, carrying 168 park visitors, passed that way. Put another way, the Park Service spent $1,934.52 per visitor to try to keep Sylvan Pass safe for their passage."
For those of you who have not experienced Yellowstone in winter, the main access is through the Gardiner, MT (NorthWest) entrance and the West Yellowstone, MT (West) entrance or even through the Grand Teton entrance. 
It seems only logical that the Sylvan Pass entrance should be closed !  Wildlife habitat, personnel safety and MONEY all make this a no brainer !!  Put politics aside and do what is right for a change.

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