Hearing concluded but no ruling today - BlueRibbon Coalition joins in asking Wyoming judge to reject Yellowstone snowmobile ban




January 27, 2004 (POCATELLO, IDAHO)

CHEYENNE, WY- U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer concluded a hearing late yesterday evaluating the hot and controversial of snowmobiling in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The hearing considered motions brought by the State of Wyoming, snowmobile manufacturers and the BlueRibbon Coalition seeking a preliminary injunction to suspend implementation of a final rule issued in late 2000 by the outgoing Clinton administration. Judge Brimmer indicated at the close of the hearing that he will take the matter under advisement and issue a decision promptly.

“We feel as though this will be the last chance to salvage any reasonable season at Yellowstone,” stated Jack Welch, President of the BlueRibbon Coalition. “We continue to believe the Park Service was correct in allowing regulated snowmobile access to these Parks, and we will anxiously await the Court’s decision,” Welch concluded.

The motions were brought in a case that was filed in 2000 in U.S. District Court in Wyoming by the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, the BlueRibbon Coalition and others, which contends the 2000 rule violated various laws and failed to provide proper winter recreational access to the Parks. The lawsuit was suspended following a settlement agreement under which the Park Service would consider previously unstudied advances in snowmobile technology. The outcome of that new analysis was announced in March, 2003, and the associated final rule would have allowed regulated snowmobiling primarily by guided tour using “clean” snowmobiles meeting aggressive sound and emission requirements. However, the 2003 rule was invalidated by a U.S. District Judge in the District of Columbia in a decision in consolidated lawsuits filed by snowmobile access opponents, and the 2000 rule resurrected. Under the 2000 rule, snowmobiles will be prohibited entirely beginning in December, 2004, with snowmobile access during the current season limited to only half of historical levels.

Wyoming and the snowmobile advocates put on witness testimony describing the adverse impacts that have already occurred this season as a result of the reductions in snowmobile access and the confusion surrounding the status of snowmobile in Yellowstone Park. Various business owners and state officials testified that entries to the Park, and associated tourism revenues, are well below historical levels since announcement of the December 16th decision. The witnesses particularly focused on the loss of jobs and income in the tourism-dependent gateway communities surrounding the Park, such as Jackson and Pahaska Teepee, Wyoming, and West Yellowstone, Montana.

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The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible use of public lands. It represents over 1,100 organizations and businesses with approximately 600,000 members.

4555 Burley Drive, Suite A

Pocatello, ID 83202

Contact: Bill Dart, Executive Director (208) 237-1008 ext. 102

Jack Welch, President (303) 279-8436 cell (303) 324-7185




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