The National Park Service announced today it will restrict snowmobile numbers in Yellowstone National Park to less than half of last winter's limit, a move that will reduce the impact of the machines on the park's air, wildlife, and natural quiet. The Park Service says new daily limits will allow up to 318 snowmobiles and 78 snowcoaches per day in the park for the next two winter seasons until it finishes work on a permanent winter-use management plan for the park.
The Park Service's decision will undo an eleventh-hour Bush administration rule authorizing the use 720 snowmobiles a day in Yellowstone. That rule exacerbated the environmental impacts of a 540-snowmobile plan previously invalidated by a federal court in a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice. In its September 15, 2008 decision, the court ruled that the Park Service's 540-snowmobile regulation violated the federal law requiring the National Park Service to protect the clean air, wildlife, and natural quiet of our national parks.
Earthjustice attorney Sean Helle said, "This is a step in the right direction. We look forward to working with the Park Service as it develops a permanent winter-use plan that conserves our first national park."
For more than a decade, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, and Winter Wildlands Alliance have worked to protect Yellowstone's resources and values by securing a transition from snowmobile to snowcoach access within the park. The organizations are represented by Earthjustice, a public interest environmental law firm based in Oakland, California.