Six members of Congress from Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, and Utah asked Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Friday to reconsider the limit proposed by the Obama Administration. Obama’s rule would last two years before a permanent rule is created. Grand Teton National Park is also affected by the Obama administration’s proposal. Under the proposal, the number of snowmobiles allowed into Grand Teton would be lowered from 140 to 50.
Last November, U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer said that the old rule should be maintained until permanent numbers are settled upon, and the Bush Administration used his ruling as a guideline for the larger number allowed in for the 2008-2009 season. The Wyoming Attorney General’s Office filed court documents asking Brimmer to enforce his order.
“It would be nice if they sat down and said, ‘what really works for the folks who are wanting to visit, and the folks who are making a living up in Yellowstone?’,” Wyoming’s Democratic Governor Dave Freudenthal told a local newspaper. “It seems to me that the environmental groups aren’t going to be satisfied with anything more than zero, so we’re going to continue to have a fight.” Given that the Obama Administration has set up the lower number as a temporary cap pending further study, it is not a fight the local states is likely to win any time soon. And, of course, Freudenthal’s argument may play well the locals but won’t play well with most judges deciding things related to Yellowstone — that the native ecosystem and animal wildlife in the Park are also important considerations in any policy decision.
The prior cap of 720 snowmobiles was never reached in Yellowstone National Park last winter. An average of 205 snowmobiles entered the park in the 2008-09 season, while the maximum number of snowmobiles recorded was 426 machines.
Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.