Wyoming has moved ahead with creating a special Yellowstone National Park license plate.
Earlier this year, we reported WYDOT Director Bill Panos had brought forward a “very preliminary” proposal involving artwork and business models. Per Panos, the main goal, besides bringing in revenue, was connecting the Cowboy State with America’s first national park.
Indeed, according to the Billings Gazette, major Wyoming reps (including the governor) have expressed interest in the license plate:
While 97 percent of Yellowstone National Park is within the state of Wyoming, WYDOT Director Bill Panos said the state has not done as much to publicly associate itself with the park as its northern neighbor.
“Montana actually has a specialty plate to cover their 2 percent of the park,” Panos told the Legislature’s Joint Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Interim Committee during its Monday meeting in Casper.
The committee voted to sponsor a bill creating the plate, sending it to the full Legislature for discussion in January.
Panos said both Gov. Matt Mead and U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi had requested the transportation department present a new Yellowstone-themed license plate to the Legislature.
The proposed plate features Old Faithful geyser shooting up between the state’s trademark bucking horse image and the standard letters and numbers.
The top of the plate reads “Wyoming” and “Yellowstone” is printed at the bottom.
“It’ll actually be embossed,” Panos said. “We went away from embossing plates and we heard a lot about that.”
If approved, the plate will cost $150 initially and then $30 each subsequent year, with the money going toward the Department of Transportation’s tourism efforts and Wyoming Game and Fish conservation efforts.
“It truly is a conservation plate,” Panos said. “This is a choice someone makes … they choose it because it helps conservation and tourism in our state — and it’s pretty cool.”
Panos says the state will model their “vanity plate” on other states, in terms of fees and revenue. If successful, the Yellowstone license plate could serve as model for future plates, highlighting places like Grand Teton National Park or Devils Tower.
According to the Gazette, lawmakers of both parties were largely supportive of the Yellowstone license plate when Panos passed a sample around committee.
One notable dissenter was Representative Bunky Loucks (R-Natrona) who said the state only needs one license plate, adding “We’re not Colorado.” He also stated he believes Panos’ department had no business promoting tourism. Loucks (and fellow Natrona Republican Rep. Tom Reeder) added they had concerns over the implementation costs of the plate.
If the bill makes it through the Legislature, Yellowstone license plates could be available to the public sometime before 2024.