Yellowstone ban on boating is arbitrary

  Rachel Odell's article about the whitewater boating ban in Yellowstone National Park missed the heart of the issue: The standard for use in our national parks which was established by the National Park Service Organic Act in 1916 implies that as long as a use does not damage the resource, the National Park Service should allow that activity (HCN, 3/15/99).

I've never heard the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone River called the "Everest" of rivers. That title has been reserved for the Tsangpo River in Tibet. It's not that paddling Black Canyon isn't a skillful feat, but it's no Everest and has been done plenty of times since the "70s, and always in a day. There are plenty of scenic, calm stretches in Black Canyon where paddlers become innocuous floaters, enjoying their national park from a fluid perspective. Big rapids roar in the canyon also, but they certainly don't "turn the river into a powerful torrent that careens into Gardiner ..." Most river runners who paddle Class V whitewater "like that found on Black Canyon - know that the river always rules; the summit lies not at the take-out, but in the flow of the experience.

Boating flat water in Yellowstone has never been illegal, which further begs the question of why it is illegal on whitewater, especially when power boats are allowed to barrage Yellowstone Lake.

Let's face it, all this talk about disturbing wildlife and the problems of managing boating is just a subterfuge. Yellowstone Park cannot provide convincing evidence differentiating its circumstances from other national parks that allow and successfully manage whitewater boating - Grand Teton National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Great Falls National Park.

The ban on whitewater boating in Yellowstone National Park is arbitrary, based upon historic jurisdiction which never considered boating as merely a means of recreation.

Davison Collins

Rock Springs, Wyoming
High Country News Classifieds