Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Yellowstone's Natural Beauty

I'm excited that we are approaching the centennial of the birthdate of our National Park system. I'm also excited that there might be no snowmobiles in Yellowstone. My husband and I are looking forward to taking our kids to Yellowstone sometime in the next couple years. We were first there 15 years ago this summer in late July. I've always wanted to see the park in late winter/early spring when there is still snow, but the trout streams are open. But I dislike the thought of having my solitude of pristine snowfall and geothermal wonders interrupted by the air and noise pollution of these gas-driven horses.

This editorial is from the New York Times today...
Keeping a Watch on Winter

Published: June 6, 2007
Yesterday brought an end to another public comment period on another winter use plan for Yellowstone National Park, a plan that would raise the number of snowmobiles allowed into the park from 250 to 720 per day. The National Park Service has now spent some $10 million over the past decade examining over and over again the effects of snowmobiles on Yellowstone. The scientific results have been consistent. The best alternative, environmentally speaking, is to do away with snowmobiles altogether. There have also been more than 700,000 public comments on this question. The public has been consistent, too — consistently against snowmobiles.

What is different this time is the role the interior secretary, Dirk Kempthorne, has taken in creating a vision for the future of the parks. In a new report to the president as the Park Service approaches its centennial, Mr. Kempthorne says his chief goals include leading America “in preserving and restoring treasured resources” and demonstrating “environmental leadership.” He adds that “stewardship and science will guide decisions.”

By those standards, Mr. Kempthorne should help put an end to snowmobiles in Yellowstone. They have always contradicted the mission of the national parks, and they explicitly contradict Mr. Kempthorne’s restatement of those fundamental goals.

Preservation, conservation, scientific guidance and stewardship are all valuable principles that they should apply in every national park. Right now, Yellowstone is the glaring exception. Over six years, the Bush administration has done its utmost to set these principles aside, especially when it comes to snowmobiles. Now it has a chance to get it right.

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