Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Time, Effort, & Computer Paper
it's not as simple as just snowmobiles
.. Well the continuing debate is heating up. Yellowstone National Park has just released the Draft Winter Use Environmental Impact Statement. And it would seem that, (on first blush,) the snowmobile is the way to go. However, it's not that simple. If you intend to address this debate there is a wealth of information to digest before you jump into the fray. And it's not just about snowmobiles.
.. It's about the visitor experience. It's about the bison. It's about "BAT" (Best Available Technology.) And, it's about the future of the resource preservation in Yellowstone.
.. Unless you let others speak for you, (usually a very bad idea,) you will need the following for minimal information.
.. These will get you started. There are facts and figures and results that are seldom discussed and paint a far more complex picture than the simple minded debate about snowmobiles only. There are going to be public meetings that require your attendance. There will be comments to be made. and, there are letters to be written.
.. It is important to understand the complete process and the available facts before you begin to participate. One of the crucial elements of evaluating public comments is if they are specific and address the known facts. Just the simple concern about pollution is not enough. Just the simple complaint against snowmobiles is not enough.
.. This is why the public sentiment and many comments are not viewed as a vote. They are usually ill informed and express emotional sentiments instead of reasoned arguments. We should have learned, as children, that we don't usually get our own way by just crying. And despite their own feelings, the NPS staff must confront the data and not just the crying.
.. Here are some things to keep in mind as you join the battle to save the multiple resources that comprise the wonderland of Yellowstone.
---- "Winter monitoring data from two locations in the park show that under the current Winter Use Plan, air quality has improved; concentrations of both carbon monoxide and particulate matter have decreased considerably."(LINK)
---- "The reduction in snowmobile traffic is the primary reason for improvements in air quality, but the cleaner 4-stroke engines that are now required and weather have also played a role."(LINK)
---- "As snowmobiles have gotten cleaner, the emissions from the snowcoaches have come under closer scrutiny. Direct measurements of snowcoach emissions by the University of Denver have shown that on a per-passenger basis the average emissions from snowcoaches are about the same as the cleaner 4-stroke engine snowmobiles."(LINK)
---- "There have been no studies done on the effects of vehicle noise on the passengers of snow coaches. -- Not the vans, not the Bombardiers, not the buses."
---- "In one study, samples taken from the on-road snowpack near West Yellowstone, the most heavily traveled snowmobile route into the park, contained several varieties of PAHs and VOCs known to be major ingredients in two-stroke engine lubricants. Samples taken in Gallatin Canyon where there is car traffic but no snowmobiles did not contain these compounds."(LINK)
---- "Although the park proposes a total of 720 snowmobile/day be granted entrance, it should be noted that seldom does the number reach 300/day." (260/day is the average)
---- "At the present time, there are two relatively separate subpopulations [of bison], one on the Northern Range and the other on the Central Range. Some exchange occurs via the Mirror Plateau. In recent years, there have been major migrations from the Central Range to Gardiner basin via the road allowance between Madison Junction and Swan Lake Flats. This migratory pattern would not likely have developed in the absence of the groomed road through the Gibbon Canyon."(LINK)
.."Ultimately, the fundamental question is this: Is the park a place which is meant to “conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein,” as stated in the Organic Act of 1916, or is it “a public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people," as stated in the 1872 dedication of Yellowstone as the world's first national park?"(LINK)