Cold weather crowds

  Winter is becoming like summer in the greater Yellowstone area, at least if you're talking about crowds. The past two decades have seen a rising tide of winter visitors, especially snowmobilers and skiers, and with them new concerns for agency managers. This flood of visitors threatens both the health of the wilderness areas and the quality of recreational experience, says a new report by the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee, a group composed of supervisors from the area's six national forests and two national parks. Titled Winter Visitor Use Management: A Multi-Agency Assessment, the 83-page report identifies the threats: motorized vehicle emissions and noise; overcrowded entrances, parking, dining and restroom facilities; and tension between motorized and non-motorized recreationists. Debbie Austin, chairman of the committee and supervisor of Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, says she hopes for lots of public feedback on the report. The next step, she says, will be for officials to make the improvements needed to resolve some of the conflicts in each area. The report will be on public review until Aug. 30, 1997, at U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service offices. For a copy of the report, or to comment, write Winter Visitor Use Report, c/o Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, 420 Barrett St., Dillon, MT 59725.

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