Yellowstone’s Planning Failure(s)


The abject failure of planning in Yellowstone National Park can be traced to a single, simple flaw: ‘complacency.’

The planners and administrators of the park are just going through the motions. They are comfortable with their personal and institutional situations, and they don’t want to rock the boat. snowtel-tower-nps.jpgThey certainly don’t want to break with tradition and anticipate future conditions. They are happy to glide along without breaking any new ground or taking a stand for what is right. They are pleased to react to litigation rather than embark on anticipatory planning.

A pertinent and present example is the pending winter use plan. The planners have not addressed the changing landscape of winter in Yellowstone. They have failed to acknowledge global warming. They have failed to address changing technologies. They have failed to address demographic changes in the population. They have ignored their own studies and made decisions based on the path of least resistance.

This is inexcusable and unforgivable. This is also safe because they are never held to account. There is no oversight, there is no outside peer review. There is, however, public comment, but it’s neither binding, nor taken seriously.

The planners and administrators of Yellowstone National Park are going to cost the American taxpayer many millions of dollars over the next 30 – 40 years because of their complacency. They will have to face lawsuits and continuing revisions of plans because they have avoided anticipating the future. They do just enough to get by. How sad.

One glaring error in winter use planning has been the poor definition of Best Available Technology (BAT.) BAT is based on conceptions of winter visitation that are 30 years old. BAT is a static standard that assumes a status quo for vehicles and over-the-snow travel. BAT does not acknowledge that humans are problem solving creatures. BAT is based on the easy way to mollify pet concessionaires and not what is best for the visitor – or the park. Of course, there is no room to change BAT – that would mean considered thought and anticipation.

Alright now, everybody that is a rational and concerned person raise your hand. Thank you. Now then: what is your objection to a snowmobile in Yellowstone that is quieter than all current winter transportation? What is your objection to a snowmobile that is both quieter and cleaner than all current modes of winter transportation?

What? You say it can’t be done. It can. It has. It is. The University of Idaho has built a snowmobile that:

“. . . weighed in at 570 lbs, the lightest idaho-green-sled.jpgcombustion engine powered snowmobile in the competition; passed the National Park Service (NPS) Noise Emission standard; passed the cold start on the first pull; was second in acceleration (0.2 seconds behind a competing sled that did not pass NPS noise standards); and earned bonus kudos for no maintenance during the week of competition.” [citation]

Raise your hands if you believe that only 4-stroke engines in snowmobiles are BAT. Well, you too are complacent. The University of Idaho sled is a two stroke!!!

“The University of Idaho team also hopes to earn a first-ever National Park Certification for a two-stroke engine, a certification based on standards higher than those set by the Environmental Protection Agency. idaho-green-team.jpgThe vehicle has met all the requirements but one. “We are very very close,” said Johnson. “Hydrocarbon emissions have to be less than 15 grams per kilowatt hour. Right now we are at 17.9 grams per kilowatt hour. With some engine hardware changes, calibration changes and catalyst development, that number will improve. This year’s results show that two-stroke engines are a clean and quiet solution for consumers that still expect performance from their recreational products, and will make the recreational industry, consumers and land managers take a second look at how they view the future of the two-stroke engine.” [citation.]

bombardier-air-quality-test.jpgThe current University of Idaho prototype snowmobile is cleaner than 90% of the obsolete Bombardier fleet, and way cleaner than the diesel buses that are BAT. Where is the thinking planner? Can the world really change?

<<- Can this rattling, stinking, unsafe, obsolete vehicle really be good for Yellowstone?

There are many other examples that could be used. Why is the administration of Yellowstone National Park allowing the erection of buildings that they have no means to fund? Why is there no winter use plan for “low snow years?” Why is there no plan to encourage back country use and appreciation? Why is there no bicycle lane incorporated into the current, (and anticipated,) roads? Why can’t ‘back country rangers’ give adequate directions to “Fairyland?” Why is there only ‘first class’ accommodations in park facilities? Why does the National Park Service encourage and foster monopolistic domination of facilities? There are more!

Where is the plan for continued fuel efficient vehicle purchase? Why is there a plan to build an exorbitant west entrance station? Why don’t the planners look at partnerships in sewage disposal with gateway communities, (look at Yosemite,)?


Here’s some interesting reading if you raised your hand.

Home page 2007 Clean Snowmobile Challenge. Results page 2007 Clean Snowmobile Challenge. AutoblogGreen snowmobile news release. University of Idaho Press Release. Michigan Tech Archives and News Releases. Lansing State Journal Story.

Back To The Stew


Mighty Mouse

The match went well, and I finished in the top five. There were 24 shooters so I’m feeling very good – especially since I was the only girl. I’ve posted a couple of targets, including the one that really messed me up. The wind and rain made shooting a challenge. There were wind shifts of at least 120 degrees and the sighter targets looked like Swiss Cheese.

I’m still waiting for ‘Hunter 2’ and I’m grateful that ‘Hunter 1’ shoots well at lower elevations. The trip was exhausting, but it got me out of the burg for a bit of time and it felt good to see some people that didn’t hate snowmobiles, didn’t want to kill all the wolves, and thought that there were bison near them too.

This was my second match shooting in hunter class. The 30’s are a bit different than the 22’s and the 6mm’s of the varmint classes. This was a full match and I also shot in the light and heavy varmint classes. The 22 PPC was right on and I finished well in light varmint. The 6 PPC just wouldn’t group and hung right in the high 4’s – scattered vertical so it wasn’t the wind.


Last Monday night was a frenzy. I got home about noon, and the whole gang was coming over at 6:00. Happily the bison stew was done and patiently waiting in the refrigerator – melding flavors over the weekend.

The recipe is simple, old fashioned, and very tasty. It’s my third try, and this time I got it right. There are three sites on the web that I drew this recipe from, and they all say about the same thing – make it the way you like it. Visit Recipes for Natural Health and look at the Bison Stew page.

Just as Kansas City beef is superior to much of the range fed beef in Texas, Wyoming, and Montana, (I know I’ll hear about that,) so too is Midwestern bison superior to free range bison of the Dakota’s and Montana – Ted Turner’s herd included, (is it cow genes?) My bison comes from Eichten’s, and they also have a bison stew recipe. If you insist on ‘grassfed’ bison, check out Grassfed Recipes for the crock pot version of the bison stew.

Despite all the warnings about over cooking bison, 10 hours in the crock pot is not too long, and 12 hours on low can be perfect.


bison-in-crock-pot-440-x-303.jpg3# very tough bison shoulder roast – 1″ cubes,
2 stringy and dry parsnips – scrubbed and sliced thick, (use potatoes if you must,)
3 big onions coarsely chopped,
A carrot or three if they are old and tough,
4-5 tomatoes quartered,
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce,
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon,
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg,
pinch of sage,
1/2 cup of red wine that you would drink,
salt & pepper to taste.


drool.gifBrown the meat in a hot cast iron skillet with no oil. Do the same with the parsnips. Put the bison in the bottom of the crock pot, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with parsnips, then carrots, then 1/2 of the onions. Splash 1/2 the wine and all of the Worcestershire sauce over the ingredients: cover and turn to high and cook for about 5 hours. good-pinot.jpgStir, add the rest of the ingredients with the tomatoes on the top and cover and cook on low for another 5-6 hours. If you like you can thicken with a bit of cornstarch and buttermilk. Serve with buttermilk biscuits; Burgundy or Merlot or a Pinot  –  a hearty beer like Charlie Otto’s Moose Drool is also good. No salad, no beans, no squash, nothing else.

We ate it all: drank some of mom’s Pinot, ( 2003 Sonoma Coast Pinot – the last three bottles in the world,) and the report looked better after dinner than it did before dinner.


Sneaky insight: Populations of Bison, Grizzly Bears, Black Bears, Elk, and Mule Deer will increase during the initial stages of global warming in Yellowstone National Park. So too will populations of Wolves.

Earth Day – 2007


you-are-here.jpgIn 1970 the culmination of an eight year political effort to put conservation on the public agenda came to pass – Earth Day.

From a simple concept to help a president, to the grassroots explosion that took over, this was an idea whose time had come – may it return with vigor in the very near future.

Yellowstone National Park will be ‘officially’ open to the public on Friday, and I’m going get in my civilian car and go for a ride. I will spew some pollutants along the way, and then I’ll stop at the pull-out in National Park Meadows. I’ll get out of the old ‘suuby’ and walk over to one of the little trees and hug it. It won’t do a thing to save the planet – but it’ll make me feel good.

tree-hug-temagami.jpgIf you’d like to do something similar visit the Nature Conservancy web site and find a preserve near you. Or go to the EnviroLink page and search the 2007 Earth Day Activities page, there’s a bunch of them.

I’ve decided to celebrate on Monday with a bit of Bison stew. The staff is invading my humble abode for one final look at the report, then most will scatter to other projects. We have a small follow-up project for the summer, but it’s not going to be nearly as significant as the winter’s work.

I’ll be away from the computer – by design – until next Monday or Tuesday, and I’ll bring back a report on the local Earth Day activities and how the stew turned out.

It’s cold and rainy outside. The 300 or so bison that the DOL hazed into the park are back on the road north of town. The usual gathering of local residents, protesters, law enforcement, and gawkers are jamming the road with themselves and their egos.

A perfect morning to stretch my legs and get in some tennie-time.

Natural Agents Of Change


The very act of living, requires life to alter it’s environment. From the byproducts of eating and breathing to the castles we live in; all require and produce change in the environment. This is the natural order of life on the planet earth. Birds do it, bees do it, trees do it, beavers do it, we do it. It’s natural.

dam-on-thorofare-creek-nps.jpgThere is nothing ‘destructive’ about our changing food into poo. There is nothing ‘destructive’ about our changing O to CO or CO2 during breathing. This is ‘natural.’ There is nothing ‘destructive’ about a beaver building a dam across Thorofare Creek in Yellowstone.

The byproducts of the dam built by beaver-trees.jpgthe beaver include dead grass, dead trees, eroded trails & runs, trapped fish, eroded stream banks, siltation of the pond, etc. This is natural and it’s what beavers do. In fact, whatever a beaver does – and whatever alteration of the environment results – is natural.

oshaughnessy-dam-hetch-hetchy.jpgThe only difference between beaver dams and human dams is one of scale. Oh, and somewhere along the way a value judgment is made. Not the value judgment of “good vs. bad,” but the value judgment about “natural vs. unnatural.” Somewhere the perception develops that some natural behaviors are “bad” and others are “good.” And, in the case of humans “Natural” vs. “Unnatural.”

The National Park Service at one time believed that wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, and other predators were bad. These “bad” elements of the ‘natural environment’ were eliminated so that the “good” elements of the ‘natural environment’ could proliferate. The consequences of this action are with us today and we deplore the “unnatural” “imbalance” that the removal of predators left behind.

world-match.jpgSomehow, removal of predators (coyotes & muggers,) from Central Park, in New York City is viewed as good and natural. These kinds of value judgments creep into our vocabulary and cloud our thinking.

From Julian Steward to Noam Chomsky there has been a thread of thought that points out how the universe is shaped by our language and it’s depictions of the “natural world.”

Depending on your theology you believe that humans are “natural” or “unnatural.” And that theology structures your vocabulary, and that vocabulary is laden with value judgments about the alterations to the environment that humans make – from breathing to dam building to global warming.

There is no behavior or byproduct that can be attributed to humans that is not found in some other living organism. There is of course the attribute of scale, and the supposed attribute of “reason & intelligence.”

In a very real sense the current state of the world is 100% natural. The anthropogenic component of global warming is as natural as the rhythmic swing of temperature & weather has been in the past.

holy-cow.jpgHumans, (of course depending on your theology,) are just a recent development in the long history of environment-altering organisms.

Humans, (depending on your theology,) are just another part of the complex equation that determines the current and future state of this little rock. And humans, (depending on your theology,) will be long gone by the time this little rock becomes part of the sun. It’s just natural, (depending on your theology.)

It’s time to deal with the semantic component of our values. Are protected wolves “natural?” Are protected grizzly bears natural? Are we going to make anything “more natural” by delisting either? Of course not. We are natural and our actions are natural and the byproducts of our actions are natural. The question is — is it good?

Because, my theology demands that I make decisions based on a value structure that sees us all as natural: and all of our actions are natural as well. We can, however, change those actions in light of our definition of good or bad. Good for what? Bad for what? If it’s good for the earth, should we eliminate humans? If it’s good for humans does that mean we have to change the earth?

What’s good for Yellowstone? What’s good for visitors? Now there’s an interesting question framed over 90 years ago with the establishment of the National Park Service. And it’s a question of values not “natural vs. unnatural.” Or, is it?

The service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations hereinafter specified by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purposes of the said parks, monuments, and reservations, which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

interiorbuilding.jpgThe arguments about what is, or is not, “natural” are spurious. It’s all natural – and in a most troubling sense it’s both good and bad. That’s just the way human constructs are. Just like the roads that “impair” the “natural” scenery so that we can enjoy the “natural” scenery.

We and our roads and our dams and our CO2 are natural. We should decide what to do to make them “good.” If we can.

An Imus Aside


It’s all deplorable and a very sad commentary on the state of our culture: the world’s cooking, the fish are dying, the water’s disappearing, the public is being locked out of the national parks, wolves are about to hunted, grizzles too, and we’re letting the press set our agenda.

And it’s the wrong agenda. What about the denigration of women that pushed the offensive phrase into our vocabulary? We need a new vocabulary. We need words to explain how — on the one hand we civilize Yellowstone — and on the other brutalize our youth with “cool” rap and exploitation. Can you say barbarism? Don’t be a Holla Back Girl.

Some pretty cogent bloggers have figured this out too: try Ballers, Gamers and Scoundrels, or GHETTONATION.


With no apologies I post the following:

From: Kansas City Dot Com.


Imus isn’t the real bad guy
Instead of wasting time on irrelevant shock jock, black leaders need to be fighting a growing gangster culture.


Thank you, Don Imus. You’ve given us (black people) an excuse to avoid our real problem.

You’ve given Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson another opportunity to pretend that the old fight, which is now the safe and lucrative fight, is still the most important fight in our push for true economic and social equality.

You’ve given Vivian Stringer and Rutgers the chance to hold a nationally televised recruiting celebration expertly disguised as a news conference to respond to your poor attempt at humor.

Thank you, Don Imus. You extended Black History Month to April, and we can once again wallow in victimhood, protest like it’s 1965 and delude ourselves into believing that fixing your hatred is more necessary than eradicating our self-hatred.

The bigots win again.

While we’re fixated on a bad joke cracked by an irrelevant, bad shock jock, I’m sure at least one of the marvelous young women on the Rutgers basketball team is somewhere snapping her fingers to the beat of 50 Cent’s or Snoop Dogg’s or Young Jeezy’s latest ode glorifying nappy-headed pimps and hos.

I ain’t saying Jesse, Al and Vivian are gold-diggas, but they don’t have the heart to mount a legitimate campaign against the real black-folk killas.

It is us. At this time, we are our own worst enemies. We have allowed our youths to buy into a culture (hip hop) that has been perverted, corrupted and overtaken by prison culture. The music, attitude and behavior expressed in this culture is anti-black, anti-education, demeaning, self-destructive, pro-drug dealing and violent.

Rather than confront this heinous enemy from within, we sit back and wait for someone like Imus to have a slip of the tongue and make the mistake of repeating the things we say about ourselves.

It’s embarrassing. Dave Chappelle was offered $50 million to make racially insensitive jokes about black and white people on TV. He was hailed as a genius. Black comedians routinely crack jokes about white and black people, and we all laugh out loud.

I’m no Don Imus apologist. He and his tiny companion Mike Lupica blasted me after I fell out with ESPN. Imus is a hack.

But, in my view, he didn’t do anything outside the norm for shock jocks and comedians. He also offered an apology. That should’ve been the end of this whole affair. Instead, it’s only the beginning. It’s an opportunity for Stringer, Jackson and Sharpton to step on victim platforms and elevate themselves and their agenda$.

I watched the Rutgers news conference and was ashamed.

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke for eight minutes in 1963 at the March on Washington. At the time, black people could be lynched and denied fundamental rights with little thought. With the comments of a talk-show host most of her players had never heard of before last week serving as her excuse, Vivian Stringer rambled on for 30 minutes about the amazing season her team had.

Somehow, we’re supposed to believe that the comments of a man with virtually no connection to the sports world ruined Rutgers’ wonderful season. Had a broadcaster with credibility and a platform in the sports world uttered the words Imus did, I could understand a level of outrage.

But an hourlong press conference over a man who has already apologized, already been suspended and is already insignificant is just plain intellectually dishonest. This is opportunism. This is a distraction.

In the grand scheme, Don Imus is no threat to us in general and no threat to black women in particular. If his words are so powerful and so destructive and must be rebuked so forcefully, then what should we do about the idiot rappers on BET, MTV and every black-owned radio station in the country who use words much more powerful and much more destructive?

I don’t listen or watch Imus’ show regularly. Has he at any point glorified selling crack cocaine to black women? Has he celebrated black men shooting each other randomly? Has he suggested in any way that it’s cool to be a baby-daddy rather than a husband and a parent? Does he tell his listeners that they’re suckers for pursuing education and that they’re selling out their race if they do?

When Imus does any of that, call me and I’ll get upset. Until then, he is what he is — a washed-up shock jock who is very easy to ignore when you’re not looking to be made a victim.

No. We all know where the real battleground is. We know that the gangsta rappers and their followers in the athletic world have far bigger platforms to negatively define us than some old white man with a bad radio show. There’s no money and lots of danger in that battle, so Jesse and Al are going to sit it out.

To reach Jason Whitlock, call (816) 234-4869 or send e-mail to For previous columns, go to



Dear NPS, Please Plan Ahead


I would only wish that the NPS would develop forward-looking plans rather than ones based on reaction to litigation. nps-planning.jpgManagement by litigation has led to the morass that is the current debacle in Yellowstone. It should not have developed as it did. And, yes ladies, hindsight is 20/20. And I do know how hard it is to drain a swamp when . . . . . .

But; there were sane voices 30 years ago that suggested plowing the roads. There were sane voices that, 15 years ago, approached Bombardier with a request to build a modern, clean, quiet, safe snowcoach. There were sane voices 10 years ago that suggested that pollution levels and not vehicle numbers be used to measure and control pollution impacts in Yellowstone. All were and have been ignored. That’s past and the consequences of today are the results.

Right now there are some real problems that can be planned for without a current pending lawsuit. These problems will affect the whole of the National Park Service; not just Yellowstone. ast-nat.jpgNow is the time for a little anticipatory planning rather than reactive planning.

First and foremost is needed a plan that explains to the public just what is the NPS conception of: “Wild,” “Wilderness,” “Natural,” and the protection of the same. It doesn’t have to be the “capital ‘T’ truth.” It just has to be clear enough so that the public knows what it’s supporting. One voice would be nice; thank you. If the NPS planners and administrators need something to motivate them they should read The New West piece by Bill BorrieTurning Wilderness Into Zoos?” There is no lawsuit, (yet,) there is a sane voice. Please NPS plan for this, and tell us what you’re up to. Should you need additional inspiration just read the “Proceedings of the First Naturalists’ Training Conference.”

And since the NPS has other criteria for parks beside the wild ones, let them explain them as well. Preservation is a delightful word when undefined, as is restoration, as is heritage, as is special interests. Please NPS, spend a bit more time with your plan for ‘transparency.’ It might help when you go to court.

The latest IPCC report has produced a panoply of things to plan for. One that should be current conversation among the NPS “mucky-it-ups” is the drought in the western states. low-water.jpgAre the fire crews and caches prepared to defend against ‘natural’ increases in ‘wildfires’ or is it business as usual? Or is it let it burn? What is being preserved – process or property? One voice?

Should they need a bit of imaginative prodding they should read “Dust Bowl 2.0: Is The Southwest Drying Up?” Water is now, about to become a more critical issue. Will we face problems about water for the parks vs. water for the people?

Is the fuzzy plan to restore Hetch Hetchy going to bring rational conversation or will there be water wars? Of certainty there will be a debate about the role of parks. Are they something of a luxury that a once affluent nation squandered or are they a necessity that need to be ‘preserved?’ Please NPS, think about this coming confrontation. Can you plan for it?

And, as The NPS continues to acquire fleets of people movers to shuttle people around the parks we encourage them to be fully cognizant of the very real need to plan their response to questions about why they did what they did.

Now that CO2 is a Supreme Court certified pollutant, the parks need to understand the feedback mechanisms involved with its production, and the consequences of continued reliance on fossil fuels in their conception of “service.” Perhaps the planners should read “The Global Problematique.” There is a series of decisions that will have to be made very soon about access and visitor capacities and flush toilets and drinking fountains. Do you remember the “pee, no; poo, do” campaign in San Francisco? Please NPS, plan to make the right decisions.

olred.jpgCoastal and island parks are going to have to decide how to cope with their disappearing resources, or the disappearance of whole parks. How many old growth redwoods will be lost? Is ‘natural’ or ‘trees’ more important? What are they going to protect? Is it a wild tide pool or a artificially maintained one for public viewing? Is it a sea-walled fortress or a new beach? What is wild? One voice? This is closer than they think. Please NPS, think in these terms – it will save you money and lawsuits.

What about the parks that depend on lush vegetation and animal assemblages? Is irrigation in the plan? Is ‘natural transition’ in the vocabulary? Why are we buying Canadian Maple Syrup? Will there be a plan to abandon parks that no longer have the vegetation to support their status? How fast can a redwood forest migrate? What is the plan for ‘preservation,’ ‘restoration,’ ‘perpetuation,’ if there is one? There can be!

Of course, Yellowstone and her cheerleaders use an insidious form of vocabulary manipulation when talking about the verities within the park. This year there is “favorable weather” and the snow covered roads can be opened on time.

In a few years the ‘unfavorable weather‘ will persist through the winter and there will be very little snow to plow. What is the plan to deal with this shocking change in weather vocabulary. Will the NPS make snow to put on the roads? What is ‘natural’ and what is being preserved? I can guarantee that there will be a lawsuit to put snow on the roads if the NPS continues to sponsor and subsidize over-the-snow travel. And, I guarantee that I will live long enough to see it.

Where will the water for toilets and electricity for new facilities come from? How many visitor centers are necessary to interpret the “wild-natural-wilderness-preserved & restored by the NPS?” Are photovoltaics and other forms of energy mandated in design criteria? Energy will continue to cost more in a world changed by and changing in response to global warming. Perhaps the planners should read the précis in the L.A. Times: “Earth faces a grim future if global warming isn’t slowed, U.N. report says.”

Perhaps now is the time to really think about the “Partners” that the NPS allows to ‘sign on.’ and perhaps now is the time to dump partners that do not fit with a sound plan for the future. Why not compare BP and it’s involvement with the future of energy with that of Conoco? Who is the best “partner?” Both? Neither? Please NPS be a bit more discriminating about your bed partners. STD’s can be fatal.

I’m not making this up. It’s happening now. We are pretending that adaptation by human societies will solve the problems – we’ll see. In the right sidebar is a link to the NRDC. Click on the post that fits. Their summation scares even me.

Now; not next week, or next month, or next year, or next decade, but NOW is the time to begin planning for these kinds of things, and many more. Because I can promise that if the NPS does not plan for the future they will continue in their management by litigation mode, and all the parks will suffer – and so will the public, and so will I. And I will have to pay for it in many ways.

The Climate Is What We Make It



It’s tough reading, and the site is a bit jumbled, but it’s worth the time: visit the IPCC page for a look at the How, What, Where, When and Who of Global Warming. It seems that an attitude adjustment is badly needed – and our decadent complacency being what it is may hurt us in the long run. If there ever was a non-partisan issue this is it. So I expect that action will take decades.

Given the pace that governments act, and the even slower pace of their constituent bureaucracies, we will see many parts of our government, including the National Park Service, playing catch-up for the next century.

I’ll have more to say — of course!!

Yellowstone: Obsolescense Personified


onesno.jpgI’m tired of this subject. I’m tired of hating snowmobiles and calling it a discussion of winter use and access in Yellowstone National Park. I’m tired of breast beating and post pissing in the name of righteous indignation. The charade stinks and is transparent to any person who honestly admits that more is at stake here than the stink of snowmobiles.

The NPS is busy raising fees around the nation. The outrage is palpable – except that no whine or wail is heard about the fact that it now costs $100/day/person to visit Old Faithful in winter. donot.jpg(How many members in your family?)

The NPS won this one without even going to bat. Americans have been duped into thinking that “motorized over-the -snow travel” is the sensible solution to winter use in Yellowstone. It’s not!

What it is, however, is a way for the NPS to limit access to Yellowstone. It limits access to those wealthy visitors who can afford $100/day, (or more,) to visit. This is capitalism in it’s finest form, and it’s your park service at it’s worst. Even the past directors have been duped – and they are proud of it.

finnfun.jpgSnowmobiles are a rotten way to hurt Yellowstone, and the NPS knows it. (An excellent review of the current situation: Boise Weekly, “Return Of The Bubbleheads.” It’s got a couple of real and journalistic inaccuracies but it’s a good review.)

What the NPS refuses to admit is that the current crop of “SNOWCOACHES,” (what an interesting amalgam they are,) are probably just as bad, if not worse. The disaster is, that this has not been addressed in any serious way. Nor, for that matter, has the de facto fee increase.

And don’t let the cheerleaders dupe you into thinking that they are talking about the park and it’s environment. They are just lobbying for less access, more wealth, fancy accommodations, and more dependence on commercial guides. This is not access – this is restriction.

If this is such a good approach in the winter – why not apply the same principles in the summer?


The NPS is busy talking about Best Available Technology (BAT) but not for itself and certainly not in reference to the visitor experience. How about a summer BAT ??

Let’s talk safety and visitor experience as well as pollution. The NPS was willing to mandate BAT for snowmobiles in an instantaneous fashion, but not for the outmoded Bombardier Snow Bus. Why? Because then they, (the NPS,) would have to comply with the rules instantly. (Did you know that the only concessionaire, beside the park, still running these dinosaurs is an ex-Yellowstone Park Ranger?)

The NPS has allowed themselves and their pet concessionaire a “phased approach” to comply with BAT. HOGWASH – the Bombardier Snow Bus fleet needs to be scrapped. The money sink that these single-purpose vehicles provide is never ending. They will never be BAT. Their nostalgic value is no match for the continuing costs that will be associated with them for the foreseeable future.haynes-2.jpg Might just as well demand a return to the Tally-Ho for the summer visitor. After all, methane is “natural” and the apples will add an interesting diversion to the monotonous sameness of bison poop. That’s environmental sensitivity – right? Maybe Toyota can retrofit an engine to these?

Nuts !!; just put a couple ‘Bombs’ in the transportation museum, drag them out for Ted Turner and Mike Findley, and let Mary Bowmar polish them – but don’t pretend that they are any kind of solution to winter access. Certainly they are not BAT.


If the NPS, the cheerleaders, and the philanthropies were serious about these relics and over-the-snow travel they would convince a major automaker to build them oneclean and safe and quiet and BAT! (****OOPS, they already did that; and it can be fitted with modern track systems – – so why stay wedded to an obsolete single purpose vehicle that is duplicated by a modern multi purpose vehicle?olyellers-at-olfaith.jpg) Who is the NPS catering to? [Don’t ask this question!]

If the past directors and the current cheerleaders were really serious about the environment they would look at the savings and environmental advantages associated with plowing the roads, (instead of grooming them for private interests only.)

The NPS needs to address the environmental sensitivities and economic factors that come with using vehicles as they are designed to be used.

They had better look at dumping a fleet of “never-to-be-BAT” vehicles and realize those savings. This action would address safe access and still allow the ‘swells’ to have a pet tour guide in a big bus or van.

Riding in a Bombardier Snow Bus is like sitting inside a giant tin drum – sideways. The sound level is obnoxious. The views are impaired, and craning your neck is not the best way to enjoy the views. Entrance and egress demand a dexterity that only a Canadian Army Trooper would tolerate – of course that’s who they were designed for. These relics of WW II were designed to cram a fighting unit into a small space – not for leisurely touring of Yellowstone.

The heater is so inefficient that blankets are needed and carried by the drivers. This is probably a great bit of nostalgia, and an intriguing history lesson – but not a pleasant ride in the park. Of course, marketing and sales are king in this arena. The drivers call it “The Real Yellowstone Experience” – DUPED AGAIN. Thank you, NPS.

Do the drivers of these things really offer the passengers ear plugs? (Click HERE for an honest account of the “Real Experience.”)


Here are some hard questions regarding the Bombardier Snow Bus. Questions that the planners have avoided in the hopes that the cheerleaders and the public will ignore these obsolete, single-purpose vehicles:

nono.jpg1] Are these “BOMBS” as safe as converted vans and buses?
2] Do they have seat belts?
3] Are their breaking systems BAT? Windshield wipers? Windshield washers? Defoggers? Mirrors and signal lamps? Headlights? Track system? Heaters?
4] Is entrance and egress as safe in a “Bomb” as it is in the conversions? In emergency situations? Why is there a seat in the doorway? (I know the answer to this one, an additional $100 – safety be damned.)
5] Is the auditory health of visitors considered in BAT? Really, where?
6] Is there adequate, safe, and comfortable storage for all camera gear, tripods, lunch bags, crutches, walking sticks, backpacks, child-seats, luggage, and a stroller for the screaming 2-year-old? By the way is there any way to put a child seat in the things? Does the NPS care? Are the seats DOT approved? Should they be?
7] Are they accessible? Is this a Federal requirement for Yellowstone Concessionaires?
8] If these things are so good, why isn’t the NPS busy buying up a bunch of them? When was the last time they bought one for the fleet? I know where they could have gotten one for only $10,000.
9] Will the engine conversions of today still be BAT in 5 years? 10 years? Will they need more new engines? How often? Will the NPS forgive it’s own fleet?

Shame on them; and the rangers and employees that still ride 2 cycle snowmobiles! What will all this cost the taxpayer in the out years? Is this sensible policy? Is this what planners do? Is this what cheerleaders want?

I think it’s time to BAN THE BOMB!


The consequences of pretending to talk about winter access while really following a “limit public access agenda” are far reaching and do not bring about an uplifting visitor experience.

The NPS has already shown that they don’t care about pollution by preferring an alternative that allows too many snowmobiles into Yellowstone. They have also shown they don’t care by allowing one of their pet concessionaires to use diesel engines for winter access – just like the stench of summer. Is this BAT? Who defines & adjusts BAT?? Has the public ever had a chance to comment on BAT??

They have shown that they don’t care about individualized experiences by demanding that all visitors in motor coaches and snowmobiles have ‘guides.’ They have shown that they don’t care about any kind of individualized experiences – except for skiers who don’t need guides, and snowshoe travelers who don’t go too far. Skiers are saints and have never violated the park in any way; therefore there is no need to transfer the law enforcement function of the NPS to ski guides. Really?

These consequences, are going to compound themselves in the future. Here’s a few the NPS has yet to address:

1] If it’s true that bison need to leave the park to wander, why are plowed roads a problem? Do we trap the bison in the park, or do we let them roam? Elk? Wolves? Is it Yellowstone, or is it pollution, or is it snowmobiles, or is it access, or is it a winter use plan, we’re talking about?

2] Global warming is real, and even if we corrected 100% of the anthropogenic component today, the trend will continue for at least 100 years – very probably much more. Is this accounted for in the winter use plan? How? What reasons will the NPS use for limiting visitor access in 10 years? Twenty years from now? Ahhh, I get it, perpetual employment for planners.

bombie.jpg3] Is the NPS catering to the short term concerns of the wealthy and their pet concessionaires to the detriment of the long term health of Yellowstone?

4] Is the current winter use plan a real plan, or a justification for nostalgic exploitation of Yellowstone by those that can afford $100/day? This cost of visiting the park will greatly increase as capitalists discover that they have the park held hostage; and, that only the wealthy are visiting. Of course inflation, NPS policy, and rising fuel prices will aid this.

5] Are the planners, the public, and the cheerleaders so blinded by a “snowmobile crisis” that they have ignored the real problems of the future? For instance; are Americans adjusting to increased fuel prices apace with the supposed, (summer & winter,) future visitation? Oh, I get it, you mean that the roads will need to be widened for the wealthy and their land yachts, and the poor in diesel buses – I really do get it .

doozie.jpgWell, like I said, I’m tired of the discussion. The NPS isn’t listening, the cheerleaders aren’t listening, and certainly the wealthy never listen.

They collect Duesenbergs and Bombardiers & demand that Yellowstone build buildings and accommodations that the NPS can’t afford to maintain. They demand catered wilderness in the nostalgia of obsolete transportation. They demand that you and I stay out of their park.

I hope that the park can afford this consequence. Really, I do. I hope that someday I will be rich enough to enjoy Yellowstone in the winter – – Really!

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