Parks Group Backs Snowmobile Ban

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   February 19, 2002
Contact:   Kate Himot, NPCA, 202-454-3311
Ronald J. Tipton, NPCA, 202-454-3915


Parks Group Backs Snowmobile Ban

Washington, DC - For the fifth time in less than 10 years, the federal government is requesting public comment on snowmobile use in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, even though more than 80 percent of public comments on a 2000 management plan supported a phase-out of snowmobile use. Today's release of another study of snowmobile use raises the possibility that the pollutant-spewing machines will be permitted in the parks.

"The pro-snowmobile alternatives in this plan fail to give the parks the protection they deserve and that the public demands," said Thomas C. Kiernan, National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) president. "The National Park Service needs to uphold the original plan for eliminating snowmobiles-despite heavy pressure from the industry to keep the parks open to these harmful machines."

Today's draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, the result of a lawsuit settlement between the snowmobile industry and the Department of Interior, offers four options for winter management. Two remove snowmobiles from the parks: implement the original plan, or follow the plan but delay implementation by one year. Two new alternatives permit snowmobile use: require machines to meet new Environmental Protection Agency pollution standards for off-road vehicle engines, or cap the number of snowmobiles allowed daily in each park. Recently, the National Park Service reported that data offered by the snowmobile industry to support snowmachine use proved dated or unpersuasive.

The existing Park Service rule, finalized in January 2001, would phase-out recreational snowmobile use in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks over a three-year period and promote a snowcoach-based transit system. That rule was drafted following 10 years of scientific research and a three-year public process.

"Enough is enough," said Steven Bosak, NPCA's director of motorized use programs. "We cannot hand over the future of our national parks to industry lobbyists. The National Park Service has a legal duty to preserve the parks in an unimpaired state, and the Service has concluded recreational snowmobile use does in fact impair park resources and values. The public has agreed. The Park Service cannot condone continued degradation of parks for the benefit of any industry."

Final action on snowmobile regulations will not occur until November.

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