Right about now, Yellowstone's packed with RVs and station wagons all lining up to see a herd of buffalo, but the Interior Department is already thinking about winter. Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar announced plans to reduce the number of snowmobiles allowed in the park to 318 per day—less than half of the former daily limit of 720. But outfitters have complained that the cap will wound a winter economy dependent on snowmobile tours.
Now it's up to you: Salazar is seeking public comment over the next 45 days to determine whether to keep the current policy or move forward with plans to cap snowmobile use in Yellowstone. Conservationists contend that there should be as little usage as possible, but Wyoming's governor Dave Freudenthal disagrees.
“It would be nice if they sat down and said, ‘What really works for the folks who are wanting to visit, and the folks who are making a living up in Yellowstone?’"
Salazar seems to be shooting for a balance:
“The proposed rule would allow continued access to the park in winter while ensuring the protection of this national treasure and its wildlife while we develop a new long-term plan for winter use in the park,” Salazar said.
After the public comment period, Salazar's ruling will be permanent, so speak up now or forever hold your peace. Go here to leave comments for Salazar and co., and don't forget to tell BACKPACKER what you think in the comments section below.
Salazar calls for more public comment on the use of snowmobiles in Yellowstone (NPS)
Public comment encouraged in setting park's snowmobile limit (Powell Tribune)