Press Release Jan 28, 2014

Legislation Passes Committee in Congress that Would Over-ride NPS Authority by Opening of all Rivers and Lakes in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks to New Use

Statement by Bart Melton, Yellowstone Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association

“Today the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources voted on H.R. 3492, which was introduced by Rep. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming. The legislation would require that all rivers in Yellowstone and Grand Teton are opened to hand propelled boating within three years. Since 1971 these two iconic national parks have been managed under regulations that prohibit boating on certain rivers and lakes. Currently, all but 14 percent of the Upper Snake River drainage—which includes national park lands– is open to boating and of 168 lakes all but five are currently open to the public. To date, the National Park Service has decided not to consider opening remaining waters in these iconic parks in order to provide opportunities for other non-boating park visitors.  
“Congress over-riding the National Park Service is not the way to decide which uses may or may not be appropriate in these iconic National Parks. The legislation as written eliminates critically important rules that have protected these two national icons for more than 40 years. The bill opens untouched rivers and streams that total approximately three and a half times the length of the entire Mississippi River. Increased human impact on these sensitive lands could harm sensitive wildlife species such as grizzly bears by increasing the potential for conflict in their most critical and core habitat. Sensitive species need space to go where they are not continually pressed and these are the last largely undisturbed places in the Parks. Yellowstone is America’s first National Park and this type of decision should require extensive environmental analysis not a three year deadline.

“Balancing conservation and recreation is important, but sacrificing conservation isn’t good for Yellowstone. We will continue to oppose this bill and urge those pushing hardest for it to come up with a reasonable proposal for the National Park Service to consider.”