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WYDOT Proposes Special Yellowstone License Plate

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) is mulling whether to sell Yellowstone license plates.

According to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, WYDOT Director Bill Panos brought up the possibility at a Transportation Commission meeting last week. Panos stressed the proposal is “very preliminary,” concerning only possible artwork and business models at this time.

Earlier this year, the Tribune Eagle ran a report on the relative dearth of specialty license plates in Wyoming compared to neighboring states, with most reserved for military veterans and first responders.

Panos acknowledged that even if the Yellowstone license plate was desirable and profitable, the WYODT couldn’t just start selling them willy-nilly; the Wyoming Legislature would have to pass a “Yellowstone license plate” law, since fees for the plates are often split between the state and the WYDOT. From the Eagle:

Besides being another option for drivers and benefiting an organization or agency, Panos said the Yellowstone plate would be a piece in solidifying the park’s association with the state of Wyoming and vice versa.

That desire to better associate the two at the state level was what got the ball rolling on the Yellowstone plate.

“This was about connecting the word ‘Wyoming’ with ‘Yellowstone,’” Panos said.

But one problem with specialty plates in Wyoming is simply that there aren’t a lot of vehicles relative to other states, an issue brought up by commissioner Bruce McCormack.

Wyoming has about 900,000 to 1 million registered vehicles in all, Panos said, therefore limiting the number of potential sales.

But to get around that problem, the department may sell a Yellowstone novelty plate alongside a regular plate.

Novelty plates are license plates the public can order that are not for use on a vehicle.

Selling novelty plates could increase the likelihood the financial math for the Yellowstone plate would work.

Panos said the department usually sells about 2,000 novelty plates each year. He said orders for those novelty plates come in from around the world.

Rick Newton, another commission member, said he would like to see more of the state represented in specialty plates as well.

“I’m just thinking we should do it for the whole state somehow,” he said, versus just Yellowstone in the northwest corner.

In response to Newton, Panos said he’s also toying with the possibility of a Grand Teton National Park plate, as well as Devils Tower and Equality State-themed plates.

According to the Tribune Eagle, Wyoming ties with California as the states offering the third-fewest number of specialty plates, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

At this time, there is no word on any possible artwork for a Yellowstone plate. There’s no dearth of possibility however; if anything, the debate going ahead will be what not to put on a Yellowstone license plate.

About Sean Reichard

Sean Reichard is the editor of Yellowstone Insider and author of Yellowstone Insider For Families 2017.

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