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Yellowstone plans snowmobile cutback

Associated Press / May 6, 2011

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A proposal released yesterday by the National Park Service would allow no more than 330 snowmobiles a day into Yellowstone National Park during the winter — a significant reduction from recent years.

The agency had been studying several options, ranging from 720 snowmobiles a day to an outright ban, as it wrestles with the long-running dispute between environmentalists and snowmobile enthusiasts.

During the past two winters, officials have allowed 318 snowmobiles and 78 multipassenger snow coaches a day under temporary rules. In previous years, as many as 720 snowmobiles were permitted.

The new proposal would allow the 318 snowmobiles and 78 snow coaches for one more winter, with the proposed changes taking effect in the 2012-13 winter season. In addition, all snowmobilers would still be required to arrange for guides, and snow coaches for the first time would be required to install engines that emit less pollution.

The recommendation will be followed by more study and public comment. A final decision is expected later this year and, given the history of the contested issue, likely will end up in a federal court.

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