Press Release Feb 13, 2015

Yellowstone and Grand Teton Paddling Bill Doesn't Hit the High Water Mark

Statement by Sharon Mader, Grand Teton Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association

“The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) believes the Yellowstone and Grand Teton Paddling Act introduced today by Representative Lummis could have far reaching negative impacts on two of our country’s most iconic national parks. At this time, NPCA believes that the bill fails to address longstanding concerns raised by conservationists, visitors, the National Park Service, and other key stakeholders. As currently written, the bill would eliminate critically important rules that have protected these two iconic national parks for decades. The area of untouched rivers and streams that park managers would be forced to study is approximately three and a half times the length of the entire Mississippi River.”

“In its current form, the Yellowstone and Grand Teton Paddling Act calls for consideration of hand-propelled vessel use within nearly all waterways in Yellowstone, and impacts a significant number of streams and rivers in Grand Teton National Park, within the next three years. Such heavy-handed efforts may prove costly and counterproductive to the protection of park resources and enjoyment for all visitors. Current estimates of a study of this size is in the millions, similar to studies on snowmobiling.”

“The bill also prevents the National Park Service from doing its job of managing Grand Teton and Yellowstone in the best interests of preserving them for future generations. Instead, the park service is being forced to consider opening up these streams to a narrow set of interest groups. Unfortunately, the way the bill is written, it does not limit expansion of uses to small rafts and kayaks; the park service would be required to analyze all uses, including tubing and other uses not contemplated by those who have been anxious to force the National Park Service’s hand.”

“NPCA is supportive of boating and paddling opportunities within our national parks – it’s a great way to enjoy them. Yellowstone National Park currently provides boating access to 163 of its 168 lakes, providing ample opportunities for its more than three million annual visitors to experience our first national park from land and by boat. And in Grand Teton National Park, 60,000 visitors float the 26-mile stretch of the Snake River within park boundaries, each year. Such waterways were thoughtfully selected for visitors to access, while ensuring that the wildlife and wild places that draw millions of visitors to our national parks – as well as the visitors who want to access the waterways - are protected.”

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About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.