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Decision postponed, again, on Yellowstone snowmobile rule

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Once again the National Park Service has punted instead of issuing a final rule regarding the number of snowmobiles it will allow to operate each day in Yellowstone National Park.

Supt. Dan Wenk announced Thursday that the issue required additional analysis and that the park would implement an interim policy of allowing up to 318 commercially guided snowmobiles in the park each day, and 78 commercially guided snowcoaches.

Wenk said that when the winter use season starts Dec. 15, the same rules that have been in place the last two years will still apply.

He said a final ‘sustainable’ rule is expected before the start of the 2012-13 season.

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The debate over the use of snowmobiles in the nation’s oldest park dates to the Clinton administration, when the use of the machines was to be phased out because of concerns about noise, air and sound pollution, as well as visitor and wildlife safety. That rule was reversed by President George W. Bush.

The issue of snowmobiles in the park has been studied for more than a decade, at a cost of more than $10 million.

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-- Julie Cart


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