Under the Interim Winter Use Rules, 318 commercially guided, Best Available Technology (BAT) snowmobiles, and up to 78 commercially guided snowcoaches per day in Yellowstone for the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 winter seasons. It also continues to provide for motorized oversnow travel over Sylvan Pass and the East Entrance road and sets down long-term direction for winter use management in Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway: Grooming and motorized oversnow travel on the Continental Divide Snowmobile Trail between Moran Junction and Flagg Ranch will be discontinued, while 25 sleds will be allowed daily to travel to Jackson Lake purely for fishing.
The park will open for guided snowmobile and snowcoach interpretive tours on December 15, 2009.
The government bodies argue that the current numbers are too low and want to return to a daily limit of 720 snowmobiles a day, a number allowed by the Bush Administration in previous rules. They argue that over the past five years the average daily use has been 259 snowmobiles and 31 snowcoaches, and because of the lower limits snowmobilers will be turned away from the Park one out of every four days.
“Inexplicably, the 2009 Winter Use Plans actually authorize twice as many snowcoaches (78) as the historic average (around 30), while cutting snowmobile entries to less than half (318) of that previously authorized (720) and well below historic demand,” says the state’s complaint. “There is no rational basis to discriminate against snowmobiles in this fashion and no rational explanation for the disparity between the two modes of transportation.”
That’s pure spin, of course. Last year only a couple times in the 2008-2009 winter season did daily usage exceed 318 sleds daily, even with the higher limits, and those times came during the holidays.
We’re not entirely sure this case has a chance to proceed: Cheyenne-based U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer already passed once on striking down the lower limits found in the interim rules.
RELATED STORIES: Yellowstone Winter Use Plan Stays in Place After Appeal; Wyoming Seeks to Overturn Obama Administration Winter Rules; Obama Administration Sets 318-Sled Limit for 2009-2010 Winter Season