Wyoming is trying to keep the East Entrance of YNP open to snowmobiles at huge taxpayer cost per rider
Recently I posted an article about the Park Service’s latest winter plan, and its proposal to stop maintaining snowmobile access through the high elevation East Entrance to the Park.
The East Entrance road crossess 20 avalanche paths, and the Park Service keeps it open by firing artillery shells to trigger the avalanches. Unexploded ordinace is scattered all over the nearby mountains, posing a grave danger to hikers and wildlife. One Park Service employee has lost his life working to keep entrance open for guess how many snowmobiles? Last winter the number was twelve snowmobiles. Avalanche control costs about $200,000. Divide that by 12 and the result is 😥 There are additional costs grooming and patroling the road.
Now Wyoming’s governor is lying like he does about wolves. He wrote to the Park Service “Wyoming especially wants to emphasize the State’s concern with closing the East Entrance”. “There are numerous reasons not to close the East Entrance, not the least of which is the significant harm such a closure would impose on Cody’s winter tourism economy.” [boldface mine].
. . . not the slightest relation to reality.
Story in the Casper Star Tribune by Amy J. Tripe.
In an earlier article Yellowstone Park spokesman Al Nash estimated the cost per snowmobiler for avalanche control alone was $200. If you do the actual calculation, last winter the actual cost was over $1500 per snowmobile.
Think about that when you pay your new $80 public land access fee or Yellowstone lacks the money to provide vital services.
Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.
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This is yet another example of where special uses and “for profit” uses should be made to cover the fully loaded special costs directly related to that use. (And then these uses will probably self-limit themselves without any intervention). That goes for timber and grazing as well. To avoid the local influence muscle, this needs to become a federal mandate on all federal lands. Need to build a road to accomodate logging, factor the cost into the timber contract. Need to hire 10 BLM employees to manage grazing contracts, make sure the leases net enough to cover those costs. Not that simple I know, but thats the kind of mind set change we need before we can hope to focus on small incidents like this.