For Immediate Release: June 28, 2001
Kevin Collins, National Parks Conservation Association (202) 454-3392
Sean Smith, Bluewater Network, (415) 788-3666, ext. 149
Kristen Brengel, The Wilderness Society (202) 429-2694
Jon Catton, Greater Yellowstone Coalition (406) 586-1593
Senators Urge Protection of Yellowstone as Bush Administration Negotiates Deal with Snowmobile Industry
Bipartisan Letter Calls on White House to Heed Public Comment and Support Park Service Decision
Washington, D.C.9 President Bush appears to be on the verge of making a policy change opposed by senators from both political parties, this time over the future of Yellowstone, the crown jewel of America¹s National Parks.
Eleven senators, including Harry Reid (D-NV) and Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) have written to President Bush about the future of Yellowstone National Park. The senators' letter urges the President to "eliminate the serious impacts from tens of thousands of individual snowmobiles entering the park."
But reports this week indicate that the Bush administration instead is finalizing a settlement with lawyers for the snowmobile industry. Reportedly, the deal would scuttle a decision made by National Park Service professionals to phase out snowmobile use in the country¹s oldest national park.
Rather than protecting park wildlife and restoring Yellowstone¹s air quality and quiet, the deal with industry would unravel a remedy and call for more study.
In Yellowstone, elk, buffalo, and other wildlife are often forced out of their habitat by hundreds of snowmobiles racing through the park each hour. Snowmobile traffic puts stress on the park¹s wildlife during a winter season
that is often difficult for the animals to survive. Meanwhile, Yellowstone¹s rangers and visitors have suffered headaches, nausea, watering eyes and sore throats from breathing snowmobile exhaust. And the buzz, whine, and roar from snowmobiles routinely drowns out the hiss and splash of Old Faithful geyser.
The Park Service decision to phase out snowmobile use in Yellowstone and emphasize a safer, cleaner and less noisy mass transportation system followed 13 years of scientific study and a three-year public process in
which tens of thousands of citizens submitted comments.
The senators¹ letter to President Bush notes: "These public comments endorsed the Park Service¹s decision to provide winter vehicular access to Yellowstone in a way that does not damage resources or conflict with the
enjoyment of other visitors."
Today, the National Parks Conservation Association, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Bluewater Network, and The Wilderness Society urged President Bush to heed the letter sent by senators from every region of the country.
In addition to Rhode Island¹s Chafee and Nevada¹s Reid, the letter was signed by Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Paul Sarbanes of Maryland, Bob Graham of Florida, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Barbara Boxer of California, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Jon Corzine of New Jersey, John Kerry of Massachusetts, and Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut.
"Throughout the country, citizens are making it clear that they want laws upheld and their environment protected," said Kevin Collins of the National Parks Conservation Association. "These senators have sent a strong reminder to the White House that Americans have been especially clear about their desire to see Yellowstone National Park fully protected."