For decades the practice of using snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park has caused mayhem and misfortune for the environmental conditions of the Wyoming landscape. Between the smog and pollution produced by the snowmobiles to the harassment of wildlife and disturbance to visitors by the noise the vehicles created, it’s no surprise environmentalists were in a tizzy. Something had to be done.
After pressure from environmental advocates and a lawsuit, the National Park Service (NPS) agreed to write a Winter Use Plan to address the situation in the 1990s. The Clinton Administration did not complete the necessary steps to put the prohibition of snowmobiles in place before the Bush Administration began, and the Bush Administration proceeded to have NPS draft a new plan granting permission to use snowmobiles. Fortunately this plan was rejected in a victory by Earthjustice and the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), stating the plan would impair the resources of the parks. When the Obama Administration came into office there was a new commitment to address the snowmobile issue fully and accurately. Temporary plans were put in place to provide a cleaner, quieter park that allowed a limited number of snowmobiles in.
Now a more permanent plan has been approved that would require manufacturers and operators to significantly cut noise and carbon emissions in order to increase the number of snowmobiles allowed access to the park in a day for the 2015-16 season. These cuts will see a 70% reduction in carbon emissions, and the environmental quality will be enhanced so that the “impairment of park resources” will not occur with the quality of the visitor’s experience being enhanced. 16 years of lawsuits and Yellowstone finally gets the big win.
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