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Park Service Proposes First Real Limits on Snowmobiles at Yellowstone Since Guided Tours Provision

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Responding to a September Federal Court ruling that tossed the 3rd Yellowstone Winter Use Plan on the cusp of a new winter season, Park managers have released a proposed interim plan that will, for the first time since the original Clinton-era plan, reduce the actual numbers of snow machines in the Park on most of the busy winter holidays and weekends. Earlier plans had capped snowmobiles at 720, then more recently, 540 per day; the interim proposal will allow 318 per day. Last winter, an average of 290 snowmobiles entered the park each day, but on many weekends and other peak days, numbers reached 400-500, with the single highest day seeing 557. While last year, even that peak day was far below the “limit” of 720, the new limit of 318 was exceeded on 29 days out of the 82-day season. Snowmobile use is far down from the peaks in the 1990’s, due primarily to a provision in the 1st Bush plan that requires all snowmobiles to be part of guided tours, rather than allowing self-guided exploration along Park roads; since the establishment of the “guided-tour-only” requirement, total snowmobile use in Yellowstone has declined from an average of 840 machines per day (with peak weekend totals of 1600-2000), to daily averages of 263 (and peaks of 400-550) since 2004, when the tour requirement took effect. While the original Clinton plan aimed for a 3-year phased-in ban on snowmobiles, all plans proposed since Bush’s first one have set daily caps above the generally-seen peak use numbers, effectively affirming current use levels. This proposed interim plan will force local businesses that run tours to turn away customers for the first time since the guided use provision was added. The current average use of 263 snowmobiles is already exceeding the noise standards set by the Park Service, with snowmobiles audible for over half the day in 21 square miles of the Park; Park Service models suggest that 540 machines would increase this area hearing machines over half the time to 62 square miles. Sources: Jackson Hole Star-Tribune, 11/5/08 [READ ARTICLE] Jackson Hole Daily, 11/4/08 [READ ARTICLE]Wyoming Business Report, 11/4/08 [READ ARTICLE] Park Service Planning, Environment, and Public Comment Website [SEE AND COMMENT ON PROPOSED INTERIM PLAN] 
[See AEI Special Report: Yellowstone Winter Use]

One Response to “Park Service Proposes First Real Limits on Snowmobiles at Yellowstone Since Guided Tours Provision”

  1. Says:

    It is necessary to use snowmobiles with less noise, no need to turn the park into Autodrome