Administration Moves to Allow Snowmobiles in National Parks

The Bush administration recently proposed standards to allow the continued use of snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, overturning a Clinton-era ban that was never allowed to take effect. The administration previously refused to defend the ban in court, and instead reached a settlement with snowmobile manufacturers, agreeing to revisit the issue. The Park Service suspended the ban in November of 2002, just a month before the first phase-outs were to begin and before the official start of snowmobiling season. In March, the administration announced that it would allow as many as 1,140 snowmobiles to enter the parks each day during the 2003-2004 winter season -- about the normal amount of traffic. The proposed standards move toward implementing that decision despite a recent two-year study that found a ban “best preserves the unique historic, cultural, and natural resources” and would result in the “lowest levels of impacts to air quality, water quality, natural soundscapes and wildlife.” The Park Service will be accepting comments on the proposal through Oct. 14 and will likely issue final standards before the start of the snowmobile season in December.
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