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Federal Judge Strikes Down Yellowstone Snowmobile Ban

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2004 8:27 am    Post subject: Federal Judge Strikes Down Yellowstone Snowmobile Ban Reply with quote

CHEYENNE, WY (October 15) -- A Wyoming federal judge has agreed with pro access interests, snowmobile manufacturers, local business owners and the states of Wyoming and Montana in striking down a rule that would have banned snowmobiles from Yellowstone National Park. On October 14, 2004, U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer penned the latest chapter in the ongoing dispute over winter access to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, in the case initially brought in 2000 by the BlueRibbon Coalition, the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association and other snowmobile supporters. The States of Wyoming and Montana joined in these efforts to overturn a rule finalized in early 2001, on the last day of the outgoing Clinton administration, which would have restricted motorized winter access to the Parks to mass-transit "snowcoaches." Judge Brimmer concluded that the Park Service violated federal law "in its rush to push through the politically predetermined ban on snowmobiles in the Parks." Judge Brimmer further noted that "in a case as important as this, where the agency action was driven by political haste, poor judgment, and only pro forma compliance with [required procedures], it is the province of the Court to vacate the...2001 Snowcoach Rule."

"This is a great victory for those who believe that active and well-reasoned management can best address Yellowstone's winter access issues, stated Jack Welch, President of the BlueRibbon Coalition. "This decision to ban snowmobiles was a political reward for aggressive and well-funded special interests, but those looking closely at that decision realize it was built on flawed science and was implemented through illegal shortcuts. Reasonable people agree the Park Service should allow regulated snowmobile access to these special destinations," Welch concluded.

Judge Brimmer's order vacates the 2000 planning effort and resulting 2001 final rule, and remands those actions to the Park Service for further proceedings. The Park Service is presently analyzing an interim snowmobile assessment and administrative rule. The agency anticipates concluding these analyses by mid-November, in anticipation of the traditional mid-December opening of Yellowstone's winter recreation season.
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