EPA sets sights on snowmobiles

  • Laurie Ward with daughters Tiffany, Elyssa and Haylee

    John Brecher photo/J.H. News
  WYOMING, MONTANA


Banning snowmobiles is the only way to clean up the winter air in Yellowstone National Park, says the federal Environmental Protection Agency, at least until the industry comes up with cleaner machines.


The Park Service disagrees. Its preferred alternative in a new winter-use plan would plow the road between West Yellowstone and Old Faithful, opening it to buses, shuttle vans and limited numbers of private vehicles (HCN, 9/13/99: Tempers flare over winter plan). Other roads in the park would remain open to snowmobiles.


The Environmental Protection Agency now says that alternative is unacceptable, as are five of the six other alternatives in a draft version of the plan. In a letter to the park, EPA staffer Cynthia Cody cited a 1972 executive order signed by former President Richard Nixon, which allows snowmobiles in national parks only if they "will not adversely affect natural, aesthetic or scenic values."


Snowmobiles fail that test, Cody said.


"Analysis ... clearly and convincingly demonstrates current snowmobile use is adversely affecting the natural, aesthetic, and scenic values' in the park, she wrote.


Park spokeswoman Cheryl Matthews says the Park Service has a duty to comply with laws and will take the EPA letter seriously.


"No decision has been made," she said. "But that EPA letter is part of the process and has to be considered." Park officials say they will decide on a new winter plan by Nov. 1.


Cleaner and quieter snowmobiles already exist. Arctic Cat is testing prototype four-cycle snowmobiles in the park this winter, and ThreeR Industries, a small manufacturer in Capac, Mich., has begun building and selling a small four-cycle sled that meets strict California air-quality standards. Traveler's Snowmobile Rentals in West Yellowstone has one of the ThreeR machines; even though the cleaner sleds are less powerful than their two-cycle counterparts, Travelers' co-owner Glenn Loomis is ready to buy more.


"If noise and pollution are what needs fixed, let's fix it," says Loomis. "The technology is there. We can make it work."


Copyright © 2000 HCN and Scott McMillion

High Country News Classifieds
  • WATER PROJECT MANAGER, UPPER SAN PEDRO (ARIZONA)
    Based in Tucson or Sierra Vista, AZ., the Upper San Pedro Project Manager develops, manages, and advances freshwater conservation programs, plans, and methods focusing on...
  • CAMPAIGNS DIRECTOR
    Southeast Alaska Conservation is hiring. Visit https://www.seacc.org/about/hiring for info. 907-586-6942 [email protected]
  • FINANCE & GRANTS MANAGER
    The Blackfoot Challenge, located in Ovando, MT, seeks a self-motivated, detail-oriented individual to conduct bookkeeping, financial analysis and reporting, and grant oversight and management. Competitive...
  • WADE LAKE CABINS, CAMERON MT
    A once in a lifetime opportunity to live and run a business on the shore of one of the most beautiful lakes in SW Montana....
  • CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, BOOKS, CULTURE AND COMMENTARY (PART-TIME, CONTRACT)
    High Country News is seeking a Contributing Editor for Books, Culture and Commentary to assign and edit inquisitive, inspiring, and thought-provoking content for HCN in...
  • STATEWIDE COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    ABOUT US Better Wyoming is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization that educates, organizes, and mobilizes Wyoming residents on behalf of statewide change. Learn more at...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    TwispWorks is a 501(c)3 that promotes economic and cultural vitality in the mountainous Methow Valley, the eastern gateway to North Cascades National Park in Washington...
  • CLEAN ENERGY ADVOCATE OR DIRECTOR
    Location: Helena, Montana Type: Permanent, full time after 1-year probationary period. Reports to: Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs. Travel: Some overnight travel, both in-state...
  • PROFESSIONAL GIS SERVICES
    Custom Geospatial Solutions is available for all of your GIS needs. Affordable, flexible and accurate data visualization and analysis for any sized project.
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Restore Hetch Hetchy, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, seeks experienced development professional to identify and engage individuals and institutions who are inspired to help underwrite...
  • PUBLIC LANDS COUNSEL
    The successful candidate will be the organization's lead counsel on public lands issues, including reviewing federal administrative actions and proposed policy and helping to shape...
  • HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTOR
    Solar Energy International (SEI) is a 501(c)3 non-profit education organization with a mission to provide industry-leading technical training and expertise in renewable energy to empower...
  • TRAINING MANAGER
    This is a full-time position based out of our Paonia office. This position is responsible for organizing all of Solar Energy International's renewable energy trainings....
  • RANCH HAND & HOUSING OPPORTUNITY IN DURANGO, CO
    Remodeled home with the opportunity to work off part of rent. Renter(s) must be available to help with lifting, irrigation & outdoor chores, 15-40 hrs...
  • GUIDE TO WESTERN NATIONAL MONUMENTS
    NEW BOOK showcases 70 national monuments across the western United States. Use "Guide10" for 10% off at cmcpress.org
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.
  • 10 ACRES OF NEW MEXICO HIGH DESERT
    10 Acres of undeveloped high desert land in central NM, about 45 minutes from downtown Albuquerque. Mixed cedar and piñon pine cover. Some dirt roadways...
  • OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
    We are a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education, innovation, and collaboration....