NPS Retirees Support Yellowstone's Winter Use Plan If Air Quality And Natural Soundscapes Continue Improving

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR) said Friday it supports in concept a plan announced by Yellowstone National Park that would allow winter visitors to continue using best-available-technology snowmobiles to access America’s flagship national park where a majority of visitors now opt for access on multi-passenger snowcoaches.

However, CNPSR said Yellowstone’s plan must be strengthened to assure that a vital goal frequently cited by Superintendent Dan Wenk will be achieved. Superintendent Wenk has said Yellowstone’s air quality and natural soundscapes, degraded by snowmobiles in prior years, will continue to improve under his plan rather than backslide.

Yellowstone’s proposal would not ban snowmobiles from the Park. Instead, it would require reduced levels of noise and carbon monoxide in models of snowmobiles allowed into the Park. After improving a decade ago, the environmental performance of snowmobiles approved for use in Yellowstone has since regressed. The Park’s proposal would require snowmobiles to travel in a maximum of 50 groups or “transportation events” per day and at lower top speeds to reduce hazards to public safety and wildlife and disruption of Yellowstone’s natural soundscape.

“We support these essential elements of Yellowstone’s proposed plan,” said CNPSR Chair Maureen Finnerty, former superintendent of Everglades National Park. “However, a portion of the plan contradicts the National Park Service’s emphasis that for snowmobiles to remain in Yellowstone, they must protect the park’s resources and values as effectively as snowcoaches. Overall, we believe this plan can serve Yellowstone well, but we urge a change where it does not stay true to its own goal and instead elevates the use of snowmobiles over Yellowstone’s conservation.”

In a study that accompanies Yellowstone’s proposed plan, the National Park Service argues that a future group of seven snowmobiles, each required to be less noisy and polluting than snowmobiles currently used in Yellowstone, would generate a combined impact to the Park’s resources “comparable” to that of a single multi-passenger snowcoach; in short, that one type of “transportation event” would have similar effects to the other. However, data in the study reflect that groups of snowmobiles would in fact produce dramatically greater exhaust emissions than single snowcoaches—eight times more hydrocarbons, 13 times more nitrogen oxides, and more carbon monoxide if groups of snowmobiles grow beyond seven snowmobiles on some days, as the National Park Service has proposed to allow.

Meanwhile, in terms of limiting snowmobile noise, which significantly compromised visitors’ experiences in past years, but less in recent winters as the number of snowmobiles in Yellowstone has been reduced, the study shows that noise levels would grow if snowmobile groups are allowed to increase from seven to as many as 10 snowmobiles. Larger snowmobile groups would consequently be audible farther from park roads. The study contends that snowmobile groups would have equivalent sound levels to single snowcoaches, but this contention is based on an assumption that “Best-Available-Technology” snowcoaches would actually be louder than most of the snowcoaches operating today.

CNPSR member Denis Galvin, a former deputy director of the National Park Service said, “Yellowstone has built its proposed plan around an assurance that ‘transportation events’ of different types will have ‘comparable impacts.’ But the Park proposes to allow snowmobile groups to exceed its own measure of ‘comparability,’ generating disproportionate noise and exhaust and less ideal conditions for visitors seeking to experience and enjoy Yellowstone. This is contrary to what law and policy requires in our national parks. It invites further uncertainty into the controversy over snowmobile use in Yellowstone National Park that has already stretched 15 years. We hope the National Park Service will correct this portion of its plan so that it comports with the plan’s many good components.”


TWRA Introduces Tackett Creek Unit Of North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area

The TWRA has entered into a lease agreement with Molpus Timberlands Management, LLC to lease 43,000 acres, which is being utilized as the Tackett Creek unit of the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area. Located in both northeastern Campbell and northwestern Claiborne counties, the property, which has been historically used as a Public Hunting Area, is now in a five-year lease ... (click for more)

Tennessee Highway Patrol Urges Motorists To Watch Out For Deer

The Tennessee Highway Patrol urges motorists to exercise caution on the roadways this time of year due to deer-mating and -hunting season. Last year, two people were killed in traffic crashes involving deer on state roadways.  “The fall season is the most active time of year for deer-related crashes. We want to remind drivers to watch out for deer on or around the roadways, ... (click for more)

Man Shot At Apartments On Tunnel Boulevard Wednesday Afternoon, Then 2 Juveniles Shot At Rec Center On Oakwood Drive With Suspects In Custody

Chattanooga police officers responded to the apartment buildings at 404 Tunnel Blvd. Wednesday at 1:21 p.m., where residents say they heard multiple shots fired.  Witnesses said they saw multiple suspects fleeing the scene on foot behind the complex.  The male victim was taken to a local hospital for life threatening gunshot wounds.  Later Wednesday, ... (click for more)

Several Arrested Outside Erlanger Hospital When Crowd Gathers After Woodlawn Shooting

Several people were arrested Monday night outside Erlanger Hospital after a crowd gathered and clashed with police. The crowd included family and friends of 20-year-old Apprentice Berry, who was shot multiple times and killed earlier Monday night at the Woodlawn Apartments on Wilson Street. Erlanger officials said the group gathered at the emergency room, but were later moved ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Has Lost Its Most Popular Citizen - Luther Masingill - And Response

Chattanooga has lost its most popular citizen – Luther Masingill. Although we are saddened we cherish the memories.  All of us have a Luther story.  Mine is the first time I met Luther.  This was before TV and all of Chattanooga listened to Luther on the radio.  I was 12-years-old.  Some of my buddies and I had gone to the State Theater in downtown ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Policeman’s Prayer

Every year, when the Law Enforcement Foundation of Greater Chattanooga holds its annual luncheon, it is one of the most heartening displays of what America really believes, down deep inside. The most prominent and influential leaders in the community – well over 1,000 -- gather to pay tribute and pledge their support to our heroes in blue who are unfaltering in their devotion, service ... (click for more)