Cheney had role in YNP East Entrance snowmobile decision

This web site has long condemned efforts to keep the East Entrance of Yellowstone Park open to snowmobiles because of its huge cost, running up to a thousand dollars per snowmobile.

Earlier the Park Service decided to stop keeping the entrance open to save money and for safety reasons, but it recently reversed itself (remind anyone of the reversal on whether Wyoming had an acceptable wolf plan?).

Political pressure was clearly involved, and probably included the master of it — Dick Cheney.

White House played role in Sylvan Pass decision. By The Associated Press






  1. john weis Avatar
    john weis

    One wonders if a bear can shit in the woods without Cheney knowing about it. 179 more days until Bushco leaves town.

  2. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel

    What is going to take, the death of half a dozen snowmobilers to get Cody’s attention? Of course, Park employees are expendable. Their deaths don’t count. The decision to keep the East Entrance open is absolute BS


  3. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    What has always bothered me the most besides the rotten process involved is that Yellowstone is being bombarded with munitions. There is unexploded ordnance along the East Entrance. And, for what? For this? For the privileged few?

  4. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    Millions of dollars on 2 or 3 Yellowstone Winter Use Environmental Impact Statements, tens of thousands of pubic comments on the plan, and it all gets decided in a closed door meeting–with input from Cheney & a select few. NEPA–the National Environmental Policy Act–is one of the greatest laws ever written, but Bush and the NPS have made a mockery of it.

    Why do state and federal agencies go through the pretense of seeking public input on plans for snowmobiles, wolves, and grizzly bears? They’re not listening–until they hear from lawyers.

  5. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Dave Smith,

    You make an important point. It’s lawsuits that work under present day conditions.

    There are those conservation organizations that say, “Oh don’t sue, it will stir things up and cause controversy.”

    Yes, under some conditions, it is not wise to sue, but today a lawsuit is about the only way to get the law obeyed.

  6. JB Avatar

    What really yanks my chain is that “Bushco” (thanks John) has continually cut or refused to increase the budgets of federal land management agencies–and now they’ve essentially mandated a multi-million dollar subsidy for a few businessmen in Cody Wyoming. (If this seems familiar, revisit Ralph’s recent comments about how Bushco has been eating away the Forest Service’s budget with fire prevention).

    Wyoming should consider changing its state slogan to: “Thanks taxpayers! (Have we mentioned how much we hate the Federal government).”

    Wyoming, where hypocrisy reigns!

  7. Ed Avatar

    I see two issues here:

    1. The constant need for the business community everywhere to somehow declare economic domain over public lands. Where is it written that these businesses have any right what-so-ever to profit by Yellowstone in any way shape or form? This is so much like the classic rancher domain arguments its ridiuculous

    2. If people want to access the backcountry in winter, let them do it as the rest of us do. With avalanche training on bt your own muscle.

  8. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Another observation about business and YNP. Over the years, it’s clear to me that the interests of Cody businesses far outweigh that of Jackson business, much less the public.

    Wyoming wants Yellowstone managed the way the influential of Cody would like it, and that’s the reason why I tell people to avoid spending a dime in Cody.

  9. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    Ed – You’re being “elitist”

  10. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    What corks me is that NEPA was meant to give ordinary citizens a voice in government decisions, and early legal reviews of NEPA noted that it wasn’t about spending millions of dollars to generate mounds of paperwork, it was about giving agencies and the public the facts and information they needed to make good decisions.

    Agencies quickly learned to ignore the intent of the law, and to use mounds of paperwork to hide what they were trying to do.

    Agencies realized that NEPA is about process–if they dotted their i’s, crossed their t’s, and followed the rules for writing an EIS that gave the public several options, it was OK to choose the stupid option. At that point, people unhappy with the decision could sue. Good luck. So long as the agencies went thru the process, you then had to convince a judge the decision was so incredibly stupid–it’s OK to delist wolves–that the courts needed to intervene.

  11. Ed Avatar


    I think your thoughts on Cody vs Jackson are dead on. Could it have anything to do with the average tourist clientele each spot attracts? Generically it seems the Jackson crowd is a little more high brow and in turn more towards the environmental point of view. Who in their right mind would spend their vacation on a snowmobile anywhere? We’ve all been on one and the novelty is short lived.

  12. Don Riley Avatar
    Don Riley


    You are dead on !!! In 2006 Samuel Western wrote the book,
    PUSHED OFF THE MOUNTAIN – SOLD DOWN THE RIVER”, in which he documents the Wyoming economy is fundamentally supported by the policies of the Federal Government. Virtually the entire economy from agriculture to schools is not viable on a stand alone basis.
    A quote from the cover: “Wyoming, settled by an opportunistic railroad and cattlement, stands where Ireland remained for centuries: a poor, friendly, hard-working state that exports everything, especially its young. From 1980 to 2000 Wyoming aged faster than any other state in the union. Wyoming’s “way-of-life” mythology portrays the image of a wild, free land where everyone’s a trapper, homesteader, bronco rider, wildcatter, do-or-die prospector, or, the most persistent image: cattle baron….. This mythology has left Wyoming dependent on federal largess, and bankrupt but for a veneer of oil and gas money.”

    However, paraphrasing Western, no rules, just keep the money flowing.

    The economic data he presents is mind blowing. The book is well worth a read for those who wish to be informed about the foundations of the power, and thus, influence, brought to bear on most, if not all, the issues at the heart of Ralph’s work.


  13. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    Thanks largely to US Senator Ted Stevens (Uncle Ted brings home the bacon) Alaska puts Wyoming to shame when it comes to federal spending. Alaskan’s have a reputation for being fiercely independent, but I think someone should do a book titled, Alaska: The Ultimate Welfare State.

    The recent “Bridge to Nowhere” fiasco pales in comparison to decades of “Roads to nowhere,” that subsidized the logging industry and destroyed millions of acres of old growth forest in SE Alaska.

  14. JB Avatar

    Ralph: Interesting observation; I always visited the parks from the southwest (i.e. from Utah), so I’ve never spent time in Cody; now I have reason to be glad.

    Don: Thanks! Sounds like an interesting read.

    Dave Smith: You are dead on! I’d also point out that of the 10 states that received the most federal dollars per dollar contributed, 9 voted Republican in the last election. Conversely, 8 of the 10 states who received the least return on the federal tax dollars voted Democratic. This is why I feel a mixture of nausea and rage every time I hear a conservative complain about taxes.

    Tax dollars by state:

    2004 election results:

  15. JB Avatar

    Okay, I couldn’t help myself; after looking at the data contained in the graphs above I got pissed and decided to look at things in more detail. I downloaded the data and ran a few basic stats. Here’s what I found:

    (1) States in which the majority of people voted for GW Bush received an average of $1.31 for every federal $1 contributed. States that voted for Kerry received $0.92 for every federal $1 contributed. These figures differed significantly (t= 4.335, df=48, p<0.001).

    (2) A simple bivariate linear regression shows that the percentage of people who voted for Bush was strongly, positively correlated (r=0.43) with the federal dollars received per dollar contributed. This one variable explained roughly 18% of the variance in federal dollars received.

    The bottom line. States who vote republican get more from the federal government than states that vote democratic. Yet, these people are constantly complaining about taxes!

  16. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Nice analysis, JB!

    Too bad mass politics is mostly the manipulation of affective symbols!

  17. JB Avatar

    Ralph says: “Too bad mass politics is mostly the manipulation of affective symbols!”

    You mean I shouldn’t respect Republicans to apologize for their hypocrisy? 😉

  18. Nathan Hobbs Avatar

    When you see the state of some of the equipment Yellowstone uses to work on there roads and do every day maintenance its a shame they are forced to keep this trail open. They could really use the money spent to keep a handful of snowmobiles buzzing on other things.

    Some of there maintenance trucks look like they were made in the 70’s and are beaten and battered.

  19. Brian Ertz Avatar

    it’d be interesting to compound that correlation by assessing the value of all the natural resources extracted on federal public land – taking the difference between the rate paid and the market value – and fitting that number square on top of the federal resource dolled out to red vs blue states.

  20. Ryan Avatar

    Interesting study, it fails to take into account population whcih has a huge effect on how much federal tax money is paid.

  21. JB Avatar


    I’m not sure how the addition of a state population variable would change my conclusion? The fact is that the people who complain the most about the federal government receive a higher per capita benefit. Yes, these people generally live in states with smaller populations; that does not change the fact that they get more for their money.

    Still, I don’t want to give you the opportunity to dismiss these results as “biased”, so I went ahead and downloaded state population data and re-ran the numbers:

    (1) You are correct in that the size of the state population does matter. The partial correlation coefficient between state population and per capita dollars spent was r= – 0.31 (p=0.03). Thus, state population affected the amount of federal dollars received even when controlling for the percent that voted for Bush.

    (2) However, the partial correlation coefficient between percent voted for Bush and per capita dollars spent was hardly reduced by the addition of the state population variable and was still the stronger predictor (r=0.38, p=0.008). The addition of the new variable did improve the model; the original model explained 18.4% of the variance, the new model 26.3% (change in r-square=0.078, F=4.99, p<0.05).

    Conclusions: (1) Same as before: people living in a state that voted republican received more from the federal government than they contributed and (2) states with smaller populations received more from the federal government than they contributed.

    Thanks for helping me improve the predictive ability of the model! 🙂

  22. JB Avatar

    “it’d be interesting to compound that correlation by assessing the value of all the natural resources extracted on federal public land – taking the difference between the rate paid and the market value – and fitting that number square on top of the federal resource dolled out to red vs blue states.”

    Brian: Know any economists?

  23. nearlynormalized Avatar

    What else is that evil man up to? The controled Peter Sellers looking character in the movie “Being There.” I don’t trust that evil man, Cheney not Sellers.

  24. Brian Ertz Avatar

    i know an economist…

  25. Marge Avatar

    Wow. Cheney’s been mucking things up ever since he was elected to represent Wyoming. Yet more proof of why this man is poison.

  26. Catbestland Avatar

    If you want to see what kind of poison Cheney really is read TRANCE-formation of America, by Cathy O’brien and Mark Phillips. It’s the most shockiong expose’ I have rver read.


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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Ralph Maughan