The Latest: NPS creates new winter-use plan in Yellowstone

  • A snowmobile tour at Yellowstone National Park.

    Wikimedia Commons (CC)

For years, there's been fierce debate over snowmobile access to Yellowstone National Park. In the early '90s, as many as 1,900 snowmobiles swarmed the park daily, boosting local businesses but angering environmentalists concerned about air pollution and disturbed wildlife. Under President Bill Clinton, the park began phasing out snowmobiles altogether. But it changed course under George W. Bush, whose administration would have allowed nearly 1,000 per day ("Winter-use plan lurches toward the finish line," HCN, 4/1/02).

On Oct. 22, the National Park Service may have ended the battle, finalizing a winter-use plan supported by both conservation groups and motorized users. The new plan allows up to 480 snowmobiles a day, beginning in the 2014-2015 season. It's an increase from the 318 currently allowed, but includes stricter pollution and noise controls, and gives park managers and tour operators more flexibility in determining each day's mix of snowmobile and snowcoach trips.

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