Monday, October 23, 2006

Yellowstone Greets Winter

be informed
plan ahead
-- We noticed an interesting post in a blog entitled "The Testosterone Bloggers" and had to visit the site. The site "A STEP APART" relates to many topics about Yellowstone.
-- An interesting perspective arises from perusing several pages on the site: 1.) there is abundant, (mostly justified,) negativity surrounding the use of snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park, 2.) there is little effort spent in addressing the underlying problems with the machines, 3.) there is poor understanding about safety of travel in obsolete conveyances, 4.) and there is little if any conversation about the issues.
-- The history of Snowmobiles in Yellowstone is detailed at the site, and a brief note suggests that plowing the roads would be advantageous to both Yellowstone and the public. Some notes are started in what looks to be an exhaustive history of transportation in Yellowstone National Park.
-- The reading convinced us that it might be time to address the real possibility that, in the future, there will be a personal over-the-snow conveyance that is cleaner, quieter, less intrusive, safer, and more economical than the mass transportation used by commercial interests. Should this become reality, the rage against the machine named 'snowmobile' will have to be reassessed.
-- Bicycles were reviled when they first entered Yellowstone, so too were automobiles. Neither were banned. Problems were addressed: solutions and accommodations were reached.
-- Today, tour buses spew noxious fumes, smog accumulates, and snowmobiles intrude on the winterscape. All are problems, and all need to be addressed.
-- Banning tour buses is not a solution that is contemplated very seriously. Banning automobiles is not considered either.
-- If snowmobiles cannot meet sound, safety, and emissions standards then they should not be allowed into the park - BUT if the standards can be met they should be treated as any other vehicle.
-- Automobiles today are cleaner and safer than they were 50 years ago. Even diesel belching buses in good repair are are cleaner than in the past.
-- It's time to direct the conversation about "snowmobiles" to the problems that they cause. And, it's time to understand that technology can make a difference. Safety of all winter travel has been neglected by the arguments against the snowmobile. There are many safety issues that obsolete conveyances pose. Jumping to the commercial solution may pose more problems than it solves.
-- There are several employees in the planning department at Yellowstone National Park that envision solutions other than banning snowmobiles. Plowing the roads can be a viable solution. Establishing, (and enforcing,) standards for safety, noise, pollution and intrusion, can and should be developed for all winter vehicular travel.
-- A recent article in the West Yellowstone News detailed the interesting history of plowing roads in the winter. It has been successfully implemented in the past. It is an option in the upcoming winter use plan. Plowing is a viable option and one that has been lost in the debate about snowmobiles.
-- The issue should be how to provide safe, non-intrusive access to Yellowstone National Park in the winter, and still protect the park - not just about banning snowmobiles.
Wilderness Society
National Parks Traveler
MONTANA: Snow machines in the gardens