Volume 4, Number 36 - December 2, 2004
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Snowmobiling in Yellowstone gets okay
State officials are praising a move in Washington, D.C. that ensured visitors and outfitters in Yellowstone National Park will have clear snowmobiling rules to operate under during the 2004-05 winter season.
A rider attached to the omnibus appropriations bill passed by Congress a few days ago directs the National Park Service to implement its plan to allow up to 720 snowmobiles per day to enter Yellowstone this winter, so long as snowmobiles travel with commercial guides and meet best available technology requirements for air pollution. Another 140 machines would be permitted in Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway without guides.
The Park Service finalized the plan earlier this month, but recreationists and businesses that rely on visitor traffic were concerned legal wrangling would change the rule before the winter season begins. The rider ensures the plan will be left alone for the 2004-05 winter season. Confusion over the snowmobile policy led to a dramatic drop-off in snowmobiling in the parks last winter.
“Rider” is an informal term for an amendment to an appropriation bill that changes the law governing a program funded by the bill.
“One of the most unfair aspects of this entire debate was the uncertainty visitors and business owners faced when trying to prepare for the fast-approaching winter season,” Gov. Dave Freudenthal said. “On their behalf, I am incredibly glad that it has been put to rest for now. Yellowstone is ready to welcome visitors taking advantage of the chance to see such an amazing place in the winter.”
Wyoming Tourism Director Diane Shober said her office is in the process of outlining some changes in its winter marketing plan that will allow for advertising regionally almost immediately. The efforts, she said, will reach the Denver and Salt Lake City markets with newspaper ads focusing on the winter experience in Yellowstone, including snowmobiling.
“We are pleased that we now have the issue settled for this winter,” Shober said. “Our outfitters needed to know what they faced in terms of allowed entries to the park. It’s our job to do all we can to help them build a client base in order to fill their daily allocations. We’re also putting together a promotional effort that will increase exposure of the total Yellowstone winter experience to television audiences across the country.”
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