The draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Study (SEIS) was prepared by the National Park Service as part of a settlement to a lawsuit brought against the NPS by the snowmobile manufacturers, the State of Wyoming and the Wyoming State Snowmobile Association. The suit was filed after the NPS proposed banning snowmobiles in the final days of the Clinton administration.
The SEIS contains four proposals or "alternatives," including one that would allow the NPS to proceed with the proposed ban that would eliminate all snowmobiling in the winter of 2003-04.
Under alternative two - the only proposal that allows unguided snowmobiling to continue - there would be no greater emissions than if snowmobiles were completely banned and over-the-snow motorized travel was limited to snow coaches, which are essentially cargo vans propelled by tracks.
Even this estimate overstates snowmobile emissions because it was based on models predicting 166,000 snowmobiles entering the park when the average for the past several years has been 65,000.
Since the SEIS was issued last month environmental activists and some elements in the Park Service have been going out of their way to assert no progress has been made to produce cleaner and quieter snowmobile engines.
It is surprising that public officials would make statements that are completely contradicted by the draft. They want people to believe that snowmobiles are running wild throughout the entire two million acres of the park when in fact their use is limited to snow-covered paved roads in less than one percent of the total park acreage.
All of the snowmobile manufacturers presently sell new technology low-emission models. Moreover, the new models are already in use in the Yellowstone snowmobile rental fleet and the NPS has purchased over two dozen of them.
The snowmobile industry has made far greater progress in recent years than our critics want to acknowledge with the development of cleaner and quieter and more reliable snowmobiles. On top of that, the manufacturing community fully endorses additional restrictions and regulations that will ensure responsible use.