Snowmobiles Everywhere

Rev up your snowmobiles and head out west. The National Park Service is paving the way to permanently allow as many as 750 off-road vehicles in Yellowstone National Park each day.

For the past three years, the park has allowed 750 vehicles each day, even though it has only seen an average of 250. This new proposal would solidify that temporary policy, despite disapproval from former park directors.

According to an article in The New York Times:

Indeed, of the eight living former directors, the only one who did not sign was Fran P. Mainella, who was prohibited by ethics rules from doing so because she left her post less than a year ago.

Some environmentalists and conservation groups consider this a serious setback, especially in light of a proposed ban on snowmobiles in the park just a few years ago.

An article in the Arizona Daily Star points out:

The park service proposed such a ban in 2000, but it was never enacted because of legal challenges. In the late 1990s, as many as 1,400 snowmobiles a day visited Yellowstone, contributing noise and air pollution that critics in Congress and elsewhere said was inappropriate for the country's first national park.

Since the vehicles are quieter now than they used to be because of new technologies, the Park Service decided to stop their support of the ban and instead allow the vehicles—a lot of them—to roam the snowy trails.

Recent research shows that winter outdoor recreational activities can stress animals and reduce their numbers significantly.

The public has the opportunity to comment on the proposal until May 31st before the parts of the policy are implemented during the 2008-2009 winter season.

Maybe it’s just us, but it seems that if nearly all of the former park directors think that allowing that many snowmobiles in Yellowstone each day is a bad idea, current park officials might want to listen to them. But then again, most of us don’t know what it’s like to experience the park on the back of a snowmobile—maybe we’d even clamor to be one of the lucky 750. Despite our craziest inclinations, we would probably opt for a pair of snowshoes instead.


Actually the snowmobile trail system has led to a significatly decreased mortality rate among the wildlife spieces in the park, most significant is the Bison whose numbers have increased greatly because they can move about using much less energy.Also one must remember that 750 modern snowmobiles per day are insignificant when compared to the thousands of cars allowed in the park each day during the summer months. Certianly the animals in the park are used to the sound and sight of snowmobiles on the trails and do not even look up when passed or approached. There are many thousands of snowmobilers who have toured the park and enjoyed the winter wounderland with its wildlife. Perhaps all user groups need to realize that all of us have a right to enjoy the national parks in our own way. No one group should be able to mandate useage based on their ability to use outdated science and incorrect data.

Nonsense, entire self-serving nonsense. Snowmobiles and ATVs stink, whine and rip -- and, yes, even the new ones. Unless they stick to strict trails, they crush herbiage. Even then, they pollute and whine. Some rip up the earth on purpose. Bison may be forced to accustom themselves to the noise and annoyance, but they would assuredly vote, if they could, to be left alone. I'd need to see some irrefutable prove that these lovely machines provide life-giving relief trails to these sturdy, hardy creatures. Regular vehicle traffic is restricted to actual roads, but again, by all means, ban those too! More machines of any sort does not make it better, so the comparison with the road vehicles is irrelevant. Those who enjoy the winter wonderland -- 'wounderland' is an a propos Freudian slip -- on a snowmobile, ATV or dirtbike must know they are wounding it at the other beings' expense. This "in our own way" business is not fair to those who want to walk quietly and respectfully; fine for you folks, since a skier isn't likely to put much of a dent in your lifestyle.

What ever happened to family hikes and manual movement? To the real love of nature?