Summer visitors aren't the only ones on the increase in Yellowstone: the number of tourists arriving to see Yellowstone's ice-crusted trees, virginal snowfields and clouds of hot-spring steam are skyrocketing as well. Four winters ago, the number of visitors soared to a level officials had not expected until the year 2000. Parking areas, roads, warming huts and restrooms are often jammed, employees at the popular west entrance are choking on snowmobile exhaust (HCN, 4/1/96) while cross-country skiers - whose quietness doesn't warn animals of their approach - can disrupt elk herds. The Greater Yellowstone Coalition and some visitors think there should be a cap on wintertime visits.
A winter-use planning team, comprised of
officials from Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks as well
as five surrounding national forests, just finished holding a
series of public meetings in communities around the park. To
minimize grandstanding on this touchy issue, they used an
open-house format. The strategy did not play well in Jackson, Wyo.,
where a crowd of several hundred snowmobile enthusiasts booed the
federal officials loudly. Even so, Paul Hoffman, executive director
of the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce, was encouraged. The public
is not used to hearing federal officials ask, "What do you think?"
he told the Cody Enterprise.
debate can be seen as a skirmish before the main battle to
determine a human carrying capacity for Yellowstone Park. By the
time the whole process - including more public meetings - has
concluded, park superintendent Michael Finley hopes it will be
clear that, "We didn't sit here like a bunch of arrogant feds. We
listened to what people had to say."
information about winter use, write: Planning Office, Greater
Yellowstone Winter Visitor Use Management, P.O. Box 168,
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190.