Statement of Thomas C. Kiernan on the Yellowstone Protection Act

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   June 27, 2002
Contact:   Roger DiSilvestro, NPCA, 202-454-3335
Kate Himot, NPCA, 202-454-3311


Statement of Thomas C. Kiernan on the Yellowstone Protection Act

Washington, DC - The bipartisan Yellowstone Protection Act introduced by representatives Rush Holt and Christopher Shays offers hope for Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks in the wake of the Bush Administration's decision to allow snowmobile use in the two parks. This law will phase out snowmobiles in the two parks, satisfying public opinion and fulfilling park needs.
The Administration's decision flies in the face of the $2.4 million study and public comment period that Interior Secretary Gale Norton launched about a year ago when she reopened the question of snowmobiles in the two parks. At that time, the National Park Service had announced that it would phase-out snowmobiles from the two parks because they pollute and make abrasive noise. This decision was based on 375 separate scientific studies and 22 public hearings across the nation.
Secretary Norton's actions resulted in a record 350,000 comments, with 80 percent supporting the phase out. Support also came from the Environmental Protection Agency, which in April released a letter stating that the new technologies for snowmobiles would not assure non-impairment of the resources and values of the park. The EPA also called the phase out of snowmobile use "the best available protection" for Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and human health. The Bush Administration is overriding the will of the people and the results of its own studies.
In addition, the direct costs of the Administration's plan could amount to millions of dollars more each year, according to a park official. These millions of dollars in Yellowstone could be better spent protecting, rather than harassing, park wildlife and improving the experience for the tens of thousands of other visitors who use snowcoaches. In addition, the plan sets a bad precedent for other parks. Already, a bill in Congress would open the heart of Alaska's Denali National Park, a wilderness area closed to motor vehicles, to snowmobiles.
The Administration has said it will allow snowmobile use in the parks and will work out the details later. This is not the right process. The Administration cannot and should not make any decision until all the details of the options are worked out, and they and we are confidant that the parks are protected.
Representative Holt, a member of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Public Lands, and Recreation, has stated the case succinctly: "Congress created the National Park Service in 1916 to protect Yellowstone on behalf of the American people. It is now up to Congress to save Yellowstone. We must do this not as Republicans or Democrats but as Americans who believe that we have a moral obligation to safeguard the world's oldest national park."
The National Parks Conservation Association strongly endorses the Yellowstone Protection Act as the best safeguard now offered the parks.

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