Snowmobiles in Yellowstone — Déja vu?

By Drusha Mayhue

The long awaited draft Supplemental EIS (SEIS) on the fate of snowmobiling in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks has been released. There is a 100-day public comment period that ends May 29, 2002. A final decision on Yellowstone's future is due in November 2002.

“What,” you say. “Seems like we’ve been through this before and those pesky snowmobiles in the park will soon be history.” Well, we did, but…

The snowmobile manufacturers and the state of Wyoming sued the Park Service challenging the decision to ban snowmobiles in the Park. The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) claimed to have new information about snowmobiles that was not included in the earlier decision by the National Park Service. The Bush Administration, rather than defending the National Park Service’s decision, caved in to the threat of lawsuit and reopened the decision-making process, thus creating a supplemental EIS on the use of snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

After receiving scoping comments this past summer in response to the settlement agreement, the National Park Service found that “Snowmobile manufacturers have failed to provide any useful information about new technologies that they claim should alter a decision to end snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park.” John Sacklin, chief of park planning in Yellowstone, says new information has been scant at best.

Even Mike Finley, former superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, said in June 2001 that not only are traditional two-stroke snowmobiles too loud and dirty to be used in the park, the recently developed four-stroke machines that run more quietly and cleanly still aren't good enough. "Cleaner is not clean. Quieter is not quiet," he said. Even the new snowmobiles "would not adequately protect Yellowstone National Park."

Pull out your pen and paper and write another letter in support of phasing out snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Among your comments be sure to include:

  • The snowmobile industry has produced no new evidence that would change the basis on which the Park Service's original decision was made: that continued snowmobile use in the parks will result in more noise, dirtier air, and more stress to wildlife.
  • The alternative backed by the snowmobile industry would put three times more carbon monoxide and seven times more hydrocarbons into the air of the parks than snowcoach access would produce.

Your comments must be in writing and must include the name and return address of the writer. Send your comments online at or mail your comments to: Winter Use Draft SEIS Comments
Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks
PO Box 352
Moose, Wyoming 83012

Comments must be received May 29, 2002.

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