Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Plan curtails snowmobile numbers in Yellowstone

October 19, 2009, 8:30 am
The National Park Service has approved a plan to restrict snowmobile numbers in Yellowstone National Park to less than half of last winter's limit.

The park on Thursday announced daily limits that will allow up to 318 snowmobiles and up to 78 snowcoaches per day in the park for the next two winter seasons.

The park has allowed up to 720 snowmobiles a day into the park over the past five winters, but actual use has been far less.

Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash said the park saw an average of 205 snowmobiles and 29 snowcoaches last winter. The park's highest recorded day was 557 snowmobiles in late December 2007.

Nash said the Park Service will keep the 318-snowmobile limit in place for Yellowstone over the next two winter seasons as it crafts a permanent winter-use management plan for the park.

Disagreement over how many snowmobiles to allow into the park for years has pitted the state of Wyoming and some tourist communities near the park against the National Park Service and environmental groups determined to reduce traffic they say can disturb wildlife and the area's tranquility.

Wyoming's congressional delegation issued a joint press release blasting the federal agency's decision.

"The snowmobile and snowcoach numbers weren't sufficient when the proposed rule came out in July and they aren't sufficient now," said Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., the state's senior U.S. senator. "More people should be allowed in the park, not less."