Our nation's first national park and most iconic winter sanctuary needs your help.
Please urge the National Park Service to continue Yellowstone's transition to cleaner, quieter and healthier conditions.
Thanks in large part to the groundswell of support from concerned citizens like you, Yellowstone has made a remarkable recovery from a decade ago when our nation's first national park looked, sounded and smelled more like a wild west race track than the winter sanctuary it was meant to be.
Fewer vehicles, commercial guiding requirements, and tighter restrictions on noise and emissions have led to a Yellowstone today that is cleaner, quieter, and far better for skiers and snowshoers and for the Park's iconic winter wildlife. However, those gains are only temporary until they are built into a long-term winter use plan.
Last month Park officials put forth a draft long-term plan for public comment. The proposed plan is on the right track, but it backslides in a couple of important areas.
Please take a few minutes right now to write a personal letter using the sample letter and talking points below. Be sure to include information about your personal experience as a skier, snowshoer or quiet winter visitor to Yellowstone in winter.
Dear Superintendent Wenk:
As a Nordic skier [or snowshoer, winter hiker, etc.] who values the natural sights and sounds of Yellowstone in winter, I appreciate the improvements to Yellowstone's winter environment resulting from reduced motorized traffic and the requirements for cleaner, quieter machines and for commercial guiding of all snowmobiles. I also appreciate your renewed emphasis on providing better services for skiers, snowshoers and other low-impact winter visitors.
Your acknowledgement in last year's Draft Winter Use Plan that visitors highly value quiet in Yellowstone and your proposal to designate certain side roads as ski and snowshoe routes and to limit motorized travel on the east side of the park in March are positive steps. I urge you to keep moving our flagship national park in this direction so that visitors can better enjoy the park's wonders with minimal interference from traffic.
The National Park Service has repeatedly confirmed that the reduction of daily snowmobile numbers over the past eight winters to approximately 250 per day has been the principal factor driving Yellowstone's improved air quality, expanded quiet, and reduced disturbance of wildlife. I am deeply concerned to learn that you are considering management options that would allow daily snowmobile numbers in the park to vary from zero to 840, or even zero to 350 — depending on the discretion of tour businesses. Please do not forsake stewardship of Yellowstone by increasing vehicle numbers above current levels and do not substitute the uncertainty of "market forces" for the clarity yielded by so many scientific studies.
In addition, Yellowstone's requirement that all snowmobile groups must be led and supervised by professional guides should remain in place. Experienced professional guides have been crucial in reducing impacts to wildlife and violations of park rules. The NPS has rightly called the commercial guide requirement a "fundamental" mitigation of adverse impacts that result when snowmobiles mix with winter-stressed wildlife in Yellowstone's uniquely sensitive corridors. Please do not go backward on this or any other aspect of Yellowstone's improving conditions.
I urge you to adopt a long-term winter use plan that caps over-snow vehicle numbers at or below those experienced during the past five winter seasons, numbers at which Yellowstone is on a path to again become America's most beloved winter sanctuary. Above all, please give Yellowstone a sustainable winter transportation system befitting of the world's first national park, one that minimizes impacts while accommodating enjoyment of Yellowstone's unparalleled winter environment.