The U.S. House of Representatives recently voted to defeat an amendment (proposed by Rep. Rush Holt of New Jersey) to the Interior Appropriations bill that would have banned snowmobile use in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The vote was 198 YES to 224 NO, far closer than it should have been. This marks yet another attempt at public lands closures with â€œpiggy-backâ€ law making by selfish, land hungry groups.
Jack Welch, President of the BlueRibbon Coalition stated, “It was very gratifying to listen to the floor debate on C-Span today. The ten Congressional Representatives that spoke against the amendment used the TRUE facts from both the Park Service and EPA documents to counter the misinformation from those who favored the amendment.”
Providing charts with true facts from data supplied from the National Park Service and EPA studies was Representative George Radanovich (CA). Two key facts were related in his testimony. First, the bison population in Yellowstone has grown during the years that snowmobile have had access to the Park from 819 animals in 1960 to over 4200 in 2003. In addition, Representative Radanovich, showed that actual EPA “Clean Air Standards” have never been violated in all the years have had snowmobiles access the Park! Once again, the true facts carried the day and the Holt amendment was defeated!
â€œCommon sense and balance between preservation and access won the day,â€ said Chairman of the Resources Committee Richard W. Pombo (R-CA). â€œThis was an arbitrary, extreme, and unnecessary proposal that would have locked the public out of these parks and devastated local economies.â€
In any discussion of access to Yellowstone it is important to remember what the arch over the northeast entrance to Yellowstone, just outside of Gardner, Montana, has etched in stone. The eloquent quote is from President Roosevelt. “This Park was created and is now administered for the benefit and enjoyment of the people…it is the property of Uncle Sam and therefore of us all.” Yet, despite these powerful words, there are those who interpret this to mean it doesnâ€™t apply to them, that they can ignore these words and modify them to meet their own agenda.
“Many of the radical environmentalists pushing for this ban want to put the parks in a museum where we can only view them through a glass wall,” said Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-WY). “People in Wyoming know better. Those parks are there for all of us to enjoy, and they provide a living for thousands of people. This ban was a bad idea the first time it came up, itâ€™s a bad idea now, and Iâ€™m proud that I was able to help fight it off for another year.”
Each winter roughly 65,000 snowmobiles enter Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks for recreation. In fact, 90 percent of Yellowstoneâ€™s winter visitors choose to travel by snowmobile. Accordingly, much of local economies in Montana and Wyoming depend on winter snowmobile recreation. The Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources has stated that banning snowmobiles from the parks would cost approximately $11.8 million in lost labor income a year and would cost Wyoming 938 jobs.
For Wyoming, a state with less than 500,000 people (2000, U.S. Census Bureau), the loss of 938 jobs has a tremendous impact on the economy. To put that in perspective, these net job losses in Wyoming are equivalent to 67,743 lost jobs in California, 37, 952 lost jobs in New York, and 12,698 lost jobs in Massachusetts.
Together we were successful in defeating the efforts of a fringe percentage of the American community who feels only they have the right to enjoy the outdoors and portray themselves as the only environmentalists. â€œTrue environmentalistsâ€ are not those who pursue land closures, but are those folks that work diligently to enjoy the outdoors and all of God’s creations responsibly. Snowmobilers understand the outdoors and all that nature has given us because we are the ones that actually go outdoors and work with our hands to nurture what Mother Nature has given us. Recent technological enhancements to snowmobiles have created a new generation of snowmobiles that emit 90 percent fewer hydrocarbons, 70 percent less carbon monoxide and are 50 percent quieter than older technology snowmobiles.