Skip to main content

 title=Paging Markos!  Yellowstone has about one month between the end of snowcoach/snowmobile season in mid March and the start of auto travel season in mid April.  During that window, the park is open to very brave people on nonmotorized vehicles.  The park's website warns of no services, no water, no cel phone coverage, and carry your own bicycle repair kit, as "the cleared section of the road may be narrow and covered with a layer of snow and ice." Oh, and stay 100 yards away from wolves and grizzlies, heading for lower elevations and looking for something to eat.  

Hmmm.  I'm all for outdoor adventures whenever possible, but there are limits.  

As spring arrives in Yellowstone, today is the last day to comment on Yellowstone's winter plan.  Focusing on motorized winter use (not bicycles), the plan will guide the Park Service beginning in 2011.  Prior park plans have generated substantial controversy on the issue of snowmobiles vs. snowcoaches.  This year, the debate has a third player: should the park plow to let private autos enter the park?

 title=For anyone who hasn't followed the snowmobiles-in-Yellowstone debate, it's long -- one district court judge handling the cases noted that his involvement began in 1997 and has continued nearly without pause to 2008.  For years, a small group of West Yellowstone businesses has pushed for snowmobiles (photo credit: Yellowstone Snowmobile Tours).  All three Republican members of the Wyoming Congressional delegation have wholeheartedly supported them.  The rest of America -- scientists, retired NPS employees, and 94% of the American public -- wants the snowmobiles gone.  Thus, litigation.  This year Yellowstone has operated under an interim plan, limiting the number of snowmobiles in the park to 318/day (Republicans want far more) while an interim plan (comment period closing tonight! see link below) is developed.  

This year, West Yellowstone commerce has a new twist: plow all of the park's roads for automobile traffic.  

Plow Yellowstone makes an intriguing case for economic equity, job creation, and carbon emission reduction (three things that I normally favor).  Snowcoaches (perceived as less environmentally damaging than snowmobiles) charge $100 or more per visitor, as do snowmobiles.  Visitors entering the park by car would simply pay $25 for a 7 day park entry fee, so more ordinary Americans can afford to visit.  Opening up most of the park to visitors means jobs being created at hotels and restaurants in the park.  Snowcoaches also get 1 to 4 miles per gallon, making them worse than even the gas-hoggiest H2, so auto travel might emit less greenhouse gas emissions, on balance.  Other national parks, notably Yosemite, are plowed during the winter.  

 title= On the other hand, plowing Yellowstone would have significant downsides.  The park states that snow plowing sucks up fuel (4 pg pdf).  Berms created by snowplows might be difficult for animals to navigate.  And one likes to think that the animals deserve some time off from contact with most humans.  

No consensus has developed in West Yellowstone, the town most likely to benefit from plowing.  Curiously, neither Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) nor Mike Enzi (R-WY), both vocal adherents of snowmobiles-as-economic-saviors-of-West-Yellowstone, has spoken up.  

FWIW, although I like to visit Yosemite in the winter (and just did!), on balance I'm opposed to plowing Yellowstone during the winter.  Despite the clever arguments, I see this as a classic case of benefiting people while burdening the ecosystem.

That's just my opinion, though, and your thoughts are just as important as mine.  You can comment.  Tonight at midnight Eastern time is the last day to do so, beginning at this link.  Browse first in the official library and toolkit if desired first.  Voting in my poll is for fun, but commenting is part of the democratic process.

Originally posted to RLMiller on Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 05:01 PM PDT.

Poll

Winter use in Yellowstone:

3%3 votes
28%23 votes
32%26 votes
9%8 votes
3%3 votes
22%18 votes

| 81 votes | Vote | Results

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site