See article below.
Fringe Environmental Groups Sue to Close Yellowstone National Park
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ed Klim - President, International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association
On December 3, 2002 the Fund For Animals (FFA) and the Bluewater Network (BWN) filed suit in Washington DC District Court requesting the Court to close Yellowstone National Park (YNP) to all users during the winter. When I read the 34 page complaint I was dismayed to see yet again a wealthy, national environmental organization filing suit to shut Yellowstone down to all winter visitors and recreationists.
As I read the complaint, I was surprised, but not shocked the elitists were seeking to ban grooming of the roads in the park. I have had the opportunity to snowmobile in Yellowstone a number of times and I know the average snowfall in YNP is over 20 feet per year. Snow usually begins in late November and the Park opens to winter tourists in mid December. Grooming occurs on approximately 185 miles of the paved roadways throughout the Park. These groomed, snow covered avenues allow the ONLY access into the Park. Those of us that recreate outdoors in winter know you cannot operate a snowcoach on ungroomed roads nor can you cross-country ski without a groomed roadway.
The complaint contained more of the same old incorrect science misrepresenting snowmobiling in Yellowstone. The shrill in the complaint was typical, but in addition to their request to stop grooming the roadways and stop snowmobiling, I noticed how they referred to the National Organic Act of 1916.
Fringe groups seem to conveniently forget Yellowstone National Park was created in 1872 and was dedicated and set apart as a Public Park or "pleasuring ground" for the benefit and enjoyment of the people. Some also forget the Organic Act specifically states that all park units were created to conserve the resources therein AND to provide for public use and enjoyment.
Winter recreation has been encouraged and fostered by the NPS since 1963 when snowmobile use first began in the Park. In 1968 snowmobiles were regulated by Winter Use Plans and were required to use the same Yellowstone road system used by cars, RV's and other motorized vehicles during the summer season. This careful, accepted limitation left over 99% of Yellowstone off limits to all winter recreationists. For some perverse reason, now the FFA and BWN want to close the park off entirely in the winter. If grooming is disallowed on the Park roads, there will be no access to snowcoaches, snowmobiles, cross-country skiers and interestingly no access for NP Rangers to patrol the Park. One observant reporter asked if Yellowstone Park Service employees would become seasonal employees since the Park would be closed for approximately 5 months out of the year.
There has been a lot of attention paid to YNP and rightfully so, since it is a beautiful spot in the world. The snowmobile manufacturers believe YNP should be properly cared for, as it has been since its inception. Along with caring for a park that was set aside for our use and enjoyment, we believe firmly the park should be adaptively managed and individuals should be encouraged to visit the park, support the park and learn from their visit. We believe reasonable snowmobiling in the park on groomed roadways is an important part of those visitation privileges. On Thursday, December 18, 2002, the snowmobile manufacturers requested to intervene in the lawsuit so we may support winter recreation in Yellowstone.
As the manager of the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, I am somewhat surprised the membership of the Fund For Animals and the Bluewater Network support the lawsuit filed by their National Boards. I would think a considerable number of their members like to see and experience Old Faithful in the winter. The lawsuit recently brought forth by the FFA and BWN will disallow that. If they stop grooming the roadways in the Park, all wintertime access to the Park will be eliminated.
We are hopeful that the court will see this lawsuit for what it is and dismiss it as an affront on the American General Public. We hope to be joined by others who will help shine a bright light on these devious efforts concocted by truly fringe elements of the environmental movement.
When our leaders back in 1872 established YNP they intended the park to be a gift to the people for the enjoyment of everyone. This park and other National Parks are for people who love outdoor activities and outdoor recreation. God created our national parks for everyone to enjoy. The FFA, BWN and others have nothing to do with creating these beautiful areas and they wish to determine who can go there and who cannot. This is not what the parks were established for, and it should not be allowed to happen.