Thursday, January 15, 2009

Want smog at its finest? Head to Yellowstone

According to National Parks magazine, last year in Washington D.C., NPCA and other advocacy groups sued the Park Service in response to the Bush Administration's proposal to allow 540 snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park each day - nearly twice the daily average over the past five years. The rule would have degraded air quality, tripled the area where visitors hear noisy engines, and increased stress on wildlife struggling to survive harsh winter conditions.

In November the judge ruled against the Administration, and ordered the Park Service to come up with a new plan. Unfortunately, they did. They came up with their own number. 720 snowmobiles allowed in each day.

And to this I say again what?

The snowmobile industry immediately filled suit in Wyoming. The judge there (big surprise) ruled that Yellowstone should stick to this new plan of 720 snowmobiles until they can craft a more suitable one. There was hope that the park might cap its previous daily limit at 318 snowmobiles this winter, but Yellowstone's superintendent chose not to pursue a temporary plan at all, and defaulted instead to the upper limit of 720, a number that flies in the face of it's own science.

Apparently for the last ten years, more than half-a-million Americans have submitted comments on this issue, and four out of five favor snowcoaches over snowmobiles.

I'm trying to figure out why the Park Service did this. I can only come up with one reason. Money. More snowmobiles means more money, more people staying at the Old Faithful Lodge, more people passing through West Yellowstone and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and spending money. Been to any national park recently? All are in dire need of updated services, and their budgets are cut repeatedly.

But to request more than the Bush Administration did? That's just incredible to me. Although I've never actually snowmobiled in the Park - my husband has and says it's beautiful, I have been just outside the Park more than once. And since there is only an imaginary line that separates Yellowstone from the rest of the world, I would have to guess that snowmobiling just outside it on the thousands of trails already available in Wyoming and Idaho, is pretty close to the same as snowmobiling in the Park. AND WITH LESS RESTRICTIONS!

Thousands of people head to this part of the country each year to do some winter recreating. I don't want to stop them from doing that. Snowmobiling is a lot of fun for the entire family.

But... let's be reasonable!

Let's think of why Yellowstone was created in the first place. To provide a safe haven for the landscape and wildlife from the rest of the world. I believe the Park Service has let its money woes go to its head and forgotten a core value of it's own institution. To protect.

Current grade for the Park Service, F+.
I'm disgusted.


Ben and Christina said...

I wonder if, unfortunatley, money is becoming more important then our parks. Hopefully with the new administration some of this will change...

Bryce and Mandy said...

This is very surprising. The jobs that were created to protect these places are the ones helping to destroy it now. I would expect it from an administration who doesn't work there but to have the park service do this?!? Very odd indeed.

It would be interesting to hear their reasoning behind their decision. They must believe they can do more with the extra money to help the park than the damage that will be done it. I guess. That is the only thing I can think of...

Lula O said...

I've read some on the nps site, and they only offer that they stuck with the recent court order issued by the Wyoming judge, which meant going back to the 2004 restrictions of 720 BAT allowed in the park each day. They said they were currently evaluating comments about the issue, whatever that means. A smoke screen to divert attention from their actions, or maybe they do need more time. Who knows, but haven't they already had enough time?

okbushmans said...

Just curious of your thoughts on President Bush's remarks during his farewell address saying, "America’s air, water, and lands are measurably cleaner". Thought I'd stir the pot a little.

Lula O said...

Did he say that? I must've missed it, or it fell within the realms of my children's loud whining about how this address was on every station. I could barely hear him over their protests.

It doesn't surprise me. The man is in extreme denial. What I did hear was syrupy sweet enough as it was...sigh. I look forward to many hopeful changes in the future, one of which is letting the lesson learned from September 11th move into history. I'm tired of that date being used over and over as the ultimate excuse for past and future US behavior.

Cleaner air, water and land? What a bunch of baloney.

Ben and Christina said...

Well, Bush is not exactly known for being "honest" when it comes to things like that. He can say one thing, but his actions definitely do another. Here is an article that puts him in his place:

Here is what PBS said about him after only 60 days in office:

After barely more than 60 days in office, President Bush has placed a distinctive mark on U.S. environmental policy, rolling back campaign promises on clean air, reversing Clinton administration initiatives on drinking water, and promoting new oil exploration in previously protected regions. And now the White House is taking steps to have the U.S. withdraw its support for a landmark 1997 global warming agreement signed in Kyoto, Japan. Environmental Protection Administrator Christie Todd Whitman told reporters the president had "no interest in implementing it."

There are, of course, several more that I found, but the bottom line is this: If environmentalist are thrilled that he is leaving office and hopeful Obama will change the negative things Bush has done, that tells me something about how "good" his environmental policies were...

Lula O said...

Christina, that article was really interesting, and a realistic slap in the face to our current President. Yah, sure we've had fewer emissions this last year, because no one can afford to drive their car! It's a secret government conspiracy. Reduce climate change - kill the global economy.
Sounds like something my buddy Rush would I obviously must be digressing to simian level.