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Lawmakers introduce bill to ban snowmobiles

WASHINGTON (AP) – Two lawmakers hope to convince their colleagues in Congress to do what the National Park Service has stopped short of doing: ban snowmobiles from Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., and Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn., introduced a bill Thursday, with 125 co-sponors, that would limit and then ban snowmobiles in the two Western parks and from the highway that connects them.

A companion bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I.

The park service had planned to do just that, with a rule that was a decade in the making. That rule has since been put on hold, with the park service signaling it intends to weaken it significantly, following the Bush administration’s settlement of a lawsuit brought by snowmobile manufacturers.

“It’s too bad this is necessary,” Holt said. “But this park is a special place and deserves special protection.”

Snowmobiling in America’s oldest – and wildest – national park has stirred significant debate. On holiday weekends during the winter, thousands of snowmobiles have ridden into Yellowstone for the 31-mile drive from the West Gate to Old Faithful, the famous geyser.

The numbers of snowmobilers have brought complaints of air pollution, frightened wildlife and unending racket. Earlier this year, park workers at the West Gate were given respirators after complaints of nausea, dizziness and sore throats, all attributed to the snowmobile emissions.

When the park service solicited public comments earlier this spring, it collected a record 335,000 letters on the issue – with writers 4-1 in favor of the ban.

But snowmobilers, industry groups and some local civic leaders have vigorously defended their right to ride into the park. They note the park is public land – and as part of the public, they have a right to enjoy it as they wish. They also note the business visiting snowmobilers brought the gateway towns of West Yellowstone, Mont., Cody, Wyo., and Jackson, Wyo., during the winter.

Earlier this week, the park service told snowmobile manufacturers and their allies during a meeting in Cody that they would continue to allow snowmobiles into the park, but would encourage snowmobilers to go on guided tours, and would require cleaner-burning, quieter engines.

That decision brought criticism from environmentalists and some liberal lawmakers. They pointed out that both the park service and the Environmental Protection Agency had done 10 years worth of research into snowmobiles in the parks, and both had concluded that banning the gasoline-fired machines was the best way to protect the parks’ air, water and wildlife.

“The facts are with us, the science is with us, the law is with us, public opinion is with us,” Holt said. “It’s just a matter of getting congressional leadership with us.”

That may be tough.

The House Resources Committee, where the bill will be considered, is packed with Western lawmakers who bristle when East Coast lawmakers impose regulations on federal land in their western states.

And Rep. George Radanovich, R-Calif., chairman of the subcommittee on national parks, where the bill will first come under scrutiny, has said previously that he is opposed to regulations which restrict recreational access – like snowmobiling – to publicly owned parklands.
 

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I noticed the guys proposing this are from the eastern urban part of the US. I wonder if they would know a snowmobile if they saw one?
 

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</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote (revrnd @ Aug. 08, 2002, 1:42pm)</td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">the guys proposing this are from the eastern urban part of the US.[/b][/quote]
I noticed the same thing also...
 

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Been to yellowstone twice, never seen any gas mask or scared buffalo. Funny how some that dont know the joy of ridding can ruin it for us. the tree huggers need to get a life and pay more taxes.
 

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The other thing...look at the post cards, they show leds stopped in the road cuz teh buffalo won't move! Don't seem scared to me! My parents were out there 2 years ago on a Decker Tour and said the wildlife didn'y mind the sleds one bit!

TREEHUGGERS! :angry:
 

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Has there ever been a proper count on how many snowmobiles enter the park on a daily basis? I find the term "thousands" suspect.
 

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Annual historic records of entries have shown a typical season of 65,000 entries each winter season by snowmoblie. The publicity of the banning has bumped this figure up to around 80,000 riders. Daily numbers are hard to come by as they vary fairly widely, with Presidents Day weekend being the heaviest traffic weekend. Unfortunately, I wouldn't know where to begin to dig that information up. The NPS doesn't seem to make them widely available.
 

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I have been to yellowstone on vac. many a times and NEVER seen any gas masks or respritory devices used by anyone, the complaints of nausea, dizziness, and sore throats is from the sulfer there by Old faithful and is there even in the summertime, NOT snowmobile emmisions!!!!
GET A CLUE :hallo3:
 
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