Coalition of National Park Service Retirees Oppose Allowing More Snowmobiles at the First Established National Park in the World; Group Submits Letter to Yellowstone Superintendent in Support of Alternative to Phase-out Snowmobiles
WASHINGTON, Aug. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Despite assurances by Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk and other National Park Service (NPS) leaders that Yellowstone National Park will be "cleaner and quieter," the NPS has indicated that it will support a winter use plan for Yellowstone National Park that could more than double the number of dirty and noisy snowmobiles currently operating in the Park.
Maureen Finnerty, chair of the Executive Council of CNPSR, said: "The NPS is proposing to make a bad situation at Yellowstone even worse. Our members understand the real world consequences of motorized recreation in National Parks. We are bewildered about this proposal after seven previous environmental reviews resulted in a major federal court decision ruling that NPS was not following its own legal and policy mandates in managing snowmobile use in the Park in the winter."
Finnerty continued: "Even while acknowledging that the current average of about 200 snowmobiles operating daily in Yellowstone now are dirtier and noisier than those that were operating in the Park five years ago, Superintendent Wenk, in a complicated scenario of 'transportation events,' proposes to allow up to 480 snowmobiles per day to enter the Park for the next five years; levels not seen there for nearly a decade."
Deny Galvin, member of CNPSR and the former NPS deputy director, said, "As the deputy director of the National Park Service 10 years ago when the snowmobile industry promised to produce cleaner and quieter machines, I can tell you that the trust has been broken. Instead of working to enhance the snowmobiles to make them quieter and cleaner, they've actually cut production of those that meet the existing environmental standards in the Park. Why should the resources of Yellowstone continue to be degraded for the next five years under the assumption that the industry will change?"
The NPS proposal asserts that air quality impacts in Yellowstone would be "moderate" and air quality would improve relative to the "National Ambient Air Quality Standards." However, the Clean Air Act, under which Yellowstone is designated as a "Class I Area" does not use NAAQS as its criteria – it says air quality will be "the best possible" in Class I areas. NPS's plan does not meet that standard.
CNPSR asserts that the NPS's plan is more impacting on Yellowstone's resources than any of the other three alternatives listed in the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS)/winter use plan that was released on June 29, 2012. The plan is open to public comment until August 20, 2012.
CNPSR supports Alternative 3, which would allow current levels of motorized oversnow vehicles to operate until the 2017-2018 season, after which all snowcoaches would have to meet "best available technology requirements and could increase to 120 per day with a corresponding decrease in snowmobile numbers to zero during a 3-year phase-out period.
Finnerty said: "Alternative 3 is the only proposal that meets the National Parks Service's legal and policy mandates and is shown by scientific analysis and resource monitoring to reduce impacts on the Park's resources. Moreover, it is what 80% of the nearly one million members of the American public who have commented in previous environmental reviews have said about how they want Yellowstone to be managed in the winter."
Galvin concluded: "Once again the NPS's own analysis shows that in emissions per visitor, snowcoaches in the current Yellowstone fleet are 2 to 5 times less polluting than current models of snowmobiles operating in the Park. It confirms that Alternative 3 will phase to a "snow coach only" operation is the cleaner, quieter, simpler course of action and can result in an increase in winter visitation to this wonderful Park. They should adopt it. Yellowstone deserves it."
The over 830 members of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees are all former employees of the National Park Service with a combined 25,000 years of stewardship of America' most precious natural and cultural resources. In their personal lives, CNPSR members reflect the broad spectrum of political affiliations. CNPSR members now strive to apply their credibility and integrity as they speak out for national park solutions that uphold law and apply sound science. The Coalition counts among its members: former national park deputy directors, regional directors, superintendents, rangers and other career professionals who devoted an average of nearly 30 years each to protecting and interpreting America's national parks on behalf of the public. For more information, visit the CNPSR Web site at http://www.npsretirees.org.
SOURCE Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, Tucson, AZ