Considering The Modern Approach

IS PRESERVING NOSTALGIA WORTH HARMING YELLOWSTONE?

eluka-xcountry-ski.jpgThere is an insidious mentality among people who profess to care about Yellowstone. bombardier-air-quality-test.jpgThey will forgive a world of sins for the maintenance of nostalgic elements of the park’s past – however detrimental to both the park and the visitor experience.

Since we’re getting our first persistent snowfall here in West Yellowstone, it’s only appropriate to rekindle the winter transportation conversation. As people get their minds set on visiting Yellowstone this winter the cross country skier is busy checking his gear. Composite materials, synthetic materials, nylon and spandex, hollowfill and qualofill, -etc. Not a single thought is given to wooden skies or bamboo ski poles. Those are reserved for museums and restaurant walls.

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Never is it even imagined that the nostalgic value of unsafe, heavy, splintery, and warped equipment should be considered. Yet it’s this same skier that uses waxless skis, and graphite poles, and modern synthetic materials, that wants the polluting, obsolete and unsafe, Bombardier Snow coach to deliver him to the drop off point for his hi-tech tour of the park. Think nostalgia – act modern?

The same goes for the visitor that intends to snowshoe about the park. They want lightweight metal and nylon shoes. Something that is “easy” and modern – not nostalgic, heavy, cumbersome, and unsafe. Certainly they don’t want the effort involved in learning to walk on traditional snowshoes – nostalgia or not it’s just not safe!

The NPS in its infinite wisdom has chosen to forgive the vile emissions, damage to visitor’s hearing, and poor safety of the Bombardier Snowcoach until 2011. This stupidity is allowing this noisy and polluting unsafe machine to continue to harm Yellowstone while snowmobiles have become cleaner, quieter, and less in numbers.

The Bombardier is a single season vehicle, as are the old White Touring buses. Yet the park planners refuse to save money and avoid pollution by looking to a multi-season, clean alternative to park transportation. nono.jpgA vehicle that could do double duty, and save money, and pollute less.

And, yes there is a safe, clean, modern, alternative available. yellowbus.jpgThe NPS even endorses it as the best way to go. But the insidious thinking of planners and cheerleaders is not allowing this alternative to be implemented, or even considered. The Yellow Bus Project has been dropped in favor of multi-million dollar restoration of old White Touring Buses and the preservation, and “upgrading” of an unsafe and obsolete Bombardier fleet. Don’t spare any expense, this is nostalgic!

There seems to be some sort of NPS blinders issued to the staff as soon as their blood turns green and they are give a flat hat. “Damn the park, it’s nostalgia that must be preserved.”

There are, in fact, many alternatives to protecting the park that neither the cheerleaders nor the Park Circus choose to consider. The appearance of nostalgia ignores the continuing & potential damage that can be, and is being, caused by over the snow travel.

I certainly am aware of the potential damage that vehicle emissions can do to the park and the visitor experience. I wish that there had been acceptable park-wide maximum ppm emission standards established. I certainly wish that the standards would be incrementally lowered through time as a means to protecting the park. And I certainly wish that the cleanest mode of transportation would be the preferred mode of winter transportation. That, however, is not the wish of the NPS.serch-and-rescue-026.jpg

Sadly for me, and for future generations, the cheerleaders and NPS lackeys have concentrated on snowmobiles; not on preservation and protection of the park. This insidious stupidity is couched in phrases like tradition, nostalgia, history, and access. It results in higher fuel consumption, perpetuation of waste, continuous ongoing upgrades, and job security for park employees.

hunters-point.jpgEven the loudest cheerleaders acknowledge that it’s the private automobile that is the cleanest, most convenient, and most conducive to a successful visitor experience in Yellowstone. So, just plow the roads and be done with it. Do an honest cost analysis and allow year-round visitation. This has never been seriously addressed – and you can bet that there’s a lawsuit in the wings.

If that destroys some concessionaire investments, please be advised that our national parks are not designed to be a welfare system for entrepreneurs, despite the actions of the political planning staff. Nor, in fact, should the protection of the park take a back seat to nostalgic values about transportation.

Finally, if the NPS continues to insist on the nostalgic value of over the snow travel, then let them upgrade their vehicles to machines that are modern and built with safety and clean operation as design criteria. Spending millions of dollars to retrofit the unsafe and obsolete Bombardier fleet is just another glaring example of the waste of money and resources that the NPS is famous for.

serch-and-rescue-013.jpgThey could buy a fleet of modern vehicles for far less money, and still do a cleaner and a better job. And if they don’t want to stick with the yellow bus that they designed, then how about a Snow Bear or a Snow Fox? Cheaper, safer, cleaner, quieter, and modern. Pshaw, just too sensible!

How about a 3 cylinder engine that is clean and fuel efficient? How about a vehicle that is light, safe, warm, comfortable, and accessible? How about an American design that is already in production and used for touring, fishing, search and rescue, and an ambulance? Naw! There’s no nostalgia there.

Bombardier Gas Caps, (and other junk.)

JUST BAN THE BOMB

nono.jpgA trivia question: “On what day in May, 2007 did the largest private bombardier fleet owner sell the business, & why?”

Answer: “Exact date unknown, meeting continuing emissions and noise standards is impossible.”

The NPS released their ‘Proposed Rule to Implement Yellowstone and Grand Teton Winter Use Plan,’ last Friday.

I’ve read the proposed rule and it’s full of escape hatches for the Yellowstone Park Bombardier fleet. There are, however three problems with the ‘Bombs’ that can not be avoided. 1] “Beginning in the 2011-2012 season, all snowcoaches must meet air emission requirements, which will be the functional equivalent of having EPA Tier I emissions control equipment incorporated into the engine and drive train for the vehicle class (size and weight) as a wheeled vehicle.” This means that a Bombardier Snow Bus will have to be as clean as a bombardier-air-quality-test.jpgToyota mini-bus. FAT CHANCE, that’s why they are waiting until 2011! And, by then, they hope you hate snowmobiles to the point that you allow worse pollution from the Yellow tanks. 2] “In addition, all critical emission and sound-related exhaust components that were originally installed by the manufacturer must be in place and functioning properly. Malfunctioning components must be replaced with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) components where possible. If OEM parts are not available, aftermarket parts may be used if they are certified not to worsen emission and sound characteristics from OEM levels. In general, catalysts that have exceeded their typical useful life as stated by the manufacturer must be replaced unless the operator can demonstrate the catalyst is functioning properly.” Bombardier Snow Buses had no emissions control equipment when built. Conversion to contemporary automotive engines places a burden on the emission control system that wears out catalytic converters and mufflers at a rapid rate.The engines must run at twice design speed/mph. Costs to maintain Tier I compliance levels will be enormous and will be passed on to the consumer. Why does the park insist on this expense? 3] “Beginning in the 2011-2012 season, snowcoaches must meet a sound emissions requirement of no greater than 73dBA; test procedures to be determined by the NPS.” The design of the Bombardier Snow Bus track system is inherently noisy. The coachwork is a giant tympanic membrane, the hollow tires resonate with each bump in the road, the springs in the bogie cans are 1930’s tank technology and are uninsulated and rattle, the chains that hold the bogie cans clank unmercifully. Slop, slap, and rattle are built into the system in order to have any suspension at all. The combination of these factors mitigate against a quiet machine. Making these machines quiet would also cost extreme amounts of money. You can bet that it can’t be done in a cost effective manner. You can also bet that the NPS will devise a way to design test procedures that allow the obsolete machines to keep running – damn the spirit of the rule, it’s nostalgia that wins and the public & the park loses.

The big caveat for the Yellowstone fleet is couched in noble sounding phraseology that talks about the NPS Organic Act (16 U.S.C. 1). “The restrictions on air and sound emissions proposed in this rule are not a restriction on what manufacturers may produce but an end-use restriction on which commercially produced snowmobiles and snowcoaches may be used in the parks. . . .This exercise of the NPS Organic Act authority is not an effort by NPS to regulate manufacturers and is consistent with Sec. 310 of the Clean Air Act.” The cute part of this phraseology is including the phrase “commercially produced” – take it out and the spirit of the rule is the same. In fact why must there be any kind of distinction? If it meets standards then it should be allowed- right? Well, girlfriend, by adding the spurious phrase it opens the door for a “Significantly Modified” phrase to be inserted later in the rule-making-process. Then the ‘significantly modified’ snow coaches don’t have to meet standards because they are not ‘commercially produced.’ Just why does the NPS have to resort to this sort of chicanery? Because it’s in their green blood, and the green blood of their pet concessionaires.

Oh, what about those gas caps? The fuel containment system of Bombardier Snow Buses consists of one or two large sheet metal containers with neither crash proofing nor recirculating venting. Venting is through the gas cap – not Tier I complaint.

Vapor recirculation must include the fuel tanks to be complaint – this too, is a cost to be passed on to the consumer. The NPS and the snowmobile hater don’t really care about the park and emissions standards. Rather they care about a nostalgic ride in a loud and stinky tank. They would rather have a nostalgic ride in the park subsidized by the American Taxpayer, than have the park protected – shame on them.

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abaski-segway-skyblu.jpgAn interesting aside in the proposed rule is the continued social class distinctions propagated by the NPS.

Somehow they believe that skiers are a higher class of people than people who ride snowmobiles. Somehow the snobs in the planning office have forgotten the Constitution of the United States of America. Somehow the cheerleaders have convinced the NPS that skiers are saints and have never broken the law, and never molested wildlife, and never damaged the environment. And of course they know park rules ski-buffalo.jpgbetter than the dummies on the sleds.

They never go to off-trail thermal areas, they never ‘soap a geyser’ to get it to erupt, and they never go skinny dipping in hot springs, and of course they would never traipse across bacterial mats – now would they? This must be true, otherwise why is the following section in the proposed rule?

“This guiding requirement will reduce conflicts with wildlife along roadways because guides are trained to lead visitors safely around the park with minimal disturbance to wildlife. Commercially guided parties also tend to be larger in size, which reduces the overall number of encounters with wildlife and reduces the amount of time over-snow vehicles are audible. Commercial guides are educated in safety and are knowledgeable about park rules. . . . Commercial guides use a “follow-the-leader” approach, stopping often to talk with the group. They lead snowmobiles single-file through the park, using hand signals to pass information down the line from one snowmobile to the next, which has proven to be effective. Signals are used to warn group members about wildlife and other road hazards, indicate turns, and when to turn on or off the snowmobile. Further, all commercial guides are trained in basic first aid and CPR. In addition to first aid kits, they often carry satellite or cellular telephones, radios, and other equipment for emergency use. In this way, guides will ensure that park regulations are enforced and will provide a safer experience for visitors. (Oh, by the way, stopping and starting increases pollution, so does variable speed travel, turning the machine on and off does too! What a silly rationalization these planners have used to demand that you pay guides.)

wintrcmpfire.JPGJust apply this rule to skiers and the spirit of the rule is certainly maintained – regarding winter use. And the truth of the matter is the same. Parties of skiers in two’s and three’s on trails move bison around and scare elk constantly.

They shout and holler and drink wine from their bota bags. Do they need a guide? Perhaps a single file line of 9 skiers with a guide is necessary too. They can use single finger signals, just like they do now.
skinny.jpgWho could dare protest this egalitarian application of winter use rules? Why is there no study about this? Is pollution the scary part, or is it wildlife molestation, or is it destruction of park resources? Maybe it’s just another bit of elitism designed to reduce motorized winter visitation and increase profit for the concessionaires.

Someday I hope to be rich enough that I can afford to go to Yellowstone in the winter and go skinny dipping all alone without a ranger or tour guide to spy on me. Then I too can enjoy wonderland as the Organic Act meant for me to, just like the skiing saints.

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illegal.jpgAnd, of course how ’bout the lack of enforcement for summer visitors that get to do everything that’s illegal. There’s seems to be a pile of preconceived elitism and prejudice running rampant in the planning department at Yellowstone National Park.

Why is this? Job security? Who holds the planners accountable? Who holds the law enforcement accountable? Why are skiers and bicyclists such models of perfect park behavior? Or are they? Where is the outcry for molesting animals in the summer? Certainly not among the diesel bus tours, nor among the $500,000 mobile condominium set. Nor is it to be found among the clean and green bicycling public – saints, everyone of ’em.

Before I Rest

analysis COMPLETE, report PRINTED, boxes SHIPPED.

shipped.jpgWell, gals, the report is done and gone – HUZZAH! The staff is moving on to other projects, and I’m going to take a break.

Before I take a week or two off, (Mom’s coming here for Mother’s Day. We’ll go to Yellowstone – I’ll drive, she’ll pay,) there are a couple of things I need to say – as if I wouldn’t!

The stir and hubbub about raising fees to our National Parks is gaining attention in the media (Link, Link, Link.) This has been building since the “Fee Demonstration Program” was initiated about 11, or so years ago. Believe me, fees are going to continue to rise. There is no public outcry loud enough to stop them: it just makes a good story so it gets written.

One thing that is galling about the outcry is that it is a generalized and unfocused whine. It does not address the real costs of visiting parks – all of which are escalating at a pace that far outstrips inflation.

go-to-yellowstone.jpgYellowstone in the winter is an extreme example. Yet it does show that it’s not just park fees that are necessarily responsible for attendance figures. In fact, the Yellowstone case tests the conventional altruistic wisdom.

There has been no outcry about the way the National Park Service has forced the visiting public to spend exorbitant amounts of money to “enjoy the winter in Yellowstone.”

They have mandated that any person wishing to visit Old Faithful must pay no less than $100/day. And they have mandated that any person that wants to see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone must pay an additional $100/day.

The very people that decry the petty increases of $5, or $10, or $20 for entrance fees at parks across the nation are blatantly silent about the gross and inappropriate monetary burden placed on the Yellowstone winter visitor.

The very people that whine about a few extra hydrocarbons in the air over Yellowstone, are afraid to mention that it now is a park not much cleaner and very much more expensive.

Interestingly, winter visitation figures for Yellowstone are showing a gradual upward trend, (watch the pollution figures climb as well.) This is not because the park is cleaner but rather, I suspect, because it is more exclusive. It is now attracting more affluent visitors. Visitors who can afford to spend their money on riding in a diesel bus in the warmth of splendor. Shielded, they are, from the very elements that they profess to adore.

poor-folks.jpgThis is the first step in a trend that Scott Silver calls a plan to DISNEYFY the parks.

Now that the “RIDES” cost more money, and now that the common people have been removed from underfoot, and now that exclusivity reigns, of course Yellowstone will attract more of the “right” people.

This injustice is certainly more offensive and obscene than a $15 fee increase. Where are the news sources decrying this injustice? Where are the bloggers pointing out this prostitution of our park system? Where are the activists that so sanctimoniously proclaim that the parks should be available to the common man? Where is Tom [“Really-Loves-Yellowstone”] Brokaw? You & I know exactly where they are – riding on a diesel powered bus, or an obsolete, unsafe, gas guzzling Bombardier. They don’t dare admit that they are just as happy that the guise of pollution has rid their beloved Yellowstone of the “little people.”

They certainly are not going to suggest that the very ranting that they have used to force commercialization is limiting access. They don’t dare suggest that a family of four can afford $800 for two days in Yellowstone, (plus $250/night for hotel.) Oops forgot about travel expenses, meals, souvenirs, gratuities, photos, etc. Is a two day visit to Yellowstone worth $2,800 to the average American Family of four – you bet it is, they just can’t afford it.

denali-ride.jpgThis condition is coming to all parks, even one near you. The Presidio is already long down this road, as is Denali. And as each park realizes that they can mandate tours in lieu of individual experiences – they will.

As each park unit discovers ways to allow concessionaires to take over NPS duties, they will. As each park unit manufactures unneeded services that can bring money to the trough, they will drink.

Just how many luxury hotels (with $500/night suites,) are needed in a national park? Just how many trinket stores constitute a “service” to the public? Just how many horse back rides, stagecoach rides, bicycle rentals, (with regulations and dedicated bicycle trails,) visitor centers, museums, (centralized or dispersed, or for the birds,) resource centers, paved pathways, parking lots, luxury diners & fast food emporia, etcetera ad infinitum, are justifiable as services? The NPS is busy selling the parks – or giving them to private interests as fast as they can. They call it ‘visitor services. They also call it a wilderness.

Americans, as a general rule, want their entertainment done to them: TV, MOVIES, TOUR BUSES, GUIDED EXPERIENCES, LUXURY SUITES, GLAMOROUS DINING, etc. This is what we’ve been sold, and this is what we expect. The USA is a capitalist place and capitalism rules the mindset of us all. After all; it can’t be good if it’s cheap, it must be good if rich people covet it. This is the American mindset, and it demands that the parks cost more – not less.

Even the the NPS believes that they should have expensive luxury and exclusivity. If you don’t believe it just call (307) 344-7381, and ask about the private, not open to the public, island facilities that the executive rangers use for their own enjoyment. Ask about the “White House” china service and the fancy catered meals. Ask where it is in the budget, while you’re at it. (Oh, planning retreat? – I get it!)

The NPS model flies in the face of our overriding cultural values. It suggests that the best things about our country can be had for bargain basement prices. It suggests that the government does amusement parks better than Disney. It’s time to change the model, or it’s time to change the culture. Go ahead pick your task.

Actually the Disney model is a better deal.

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Question of the day:
Why are back country permits free?
Answer to the question:
There is no good answer!

In Yellowstone there are entrance permit fees, campground fees, photo permit fees, fishing permit fees, boating permit fees; but no hiking or back country camping permit fees. In the winter there are no snowshoe fees; and even though the park grooms ski trails there are no ski trail permit fees.

Did you know that if you bring your own horses, and weed-free fodder; you can take up five parking spaces with your rig, saddle up and ride in Yellowstone without a permit or a fee. Of course you didn’t know that; you can’t afford a horse, or a Hummer, or a six-horse trailer. Sad for you!

The NPS is missing a bet here. These kinds of activities could easily be taxed with ‘special user fees’ – this would defer costs of trail maintenance, back country signs, trail grooming, back country patrol and rescue, as well as toilet duty. In fact, very high fees would attract more elite visitors and generate more revenue.

We wonder where the righteous outcries will come from.

. . . Or, Forever Hold Your Peace!

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE

Well, it’s come down to this: the fools are still arguing argue-with-jackass.jpgabout snowmobiles while the winter is getting shorter and the snow is getting thinner.

On Thursday, May 17, 2007 a great hoard of cheerleaders, advocates, special interests, and “parkies” of all stripes will gather in beautiful West Yellowstone to share misconceptions about a winter use plan that is obsolete before it’s implemented. Such is the state of the NPS.

I’ll wager that no serious time will be given to the concept that the snow on the roads is getting thinner by the year. Certainly the NPS will not acknowledge that global warming is affecting Yellowstone in the winter time. I wonder how much time will be spent discussing the vast clouds of diesel smoke polluting the winter air from the Best Available Technology buses?

Do you suppose that the gathered assemblage will address the rising costs of the mandatory tours that are going to escalate with rising gasoline prices? Do you think that they are going to explain why the NPS is wedded to maintaining and constantly upgrading an obsolete fleet of single-purpose Bombardier Snow Buses? Maybe they will talk about the skiers that traipse across the bacterial mats at Lone Star Geyser. Maybe they will show skiers prodding bison with ski poles at 40 below. Perhaps they will discuss snowshoeing off trail in the geyser basins – NOT.

This is not a winter use plan at all. This is just one more charade in the ongoing immorality play to scream about snowmobiles and ignore public access to Yellowstone – – unless, of course, you are rich enough to afford $100/day plus entrance fees.

I’ll be there, if they don’t see me coming. I’ll give you a full report. But I promise you that no minds will be changed, (even mine.) I promise you that “Sanctimonious Sacklin” will avoid all the issues and mumble in ‘parkspeak’ about ‘accommodation.’ I promise that the audience will be sitting together in ‘camps.’ And, I promise you that everybody will come away more convinced that they are “RIGHT” than they were when they went in, (even me.)

As a matter of fact, you probably don’t need to attend. Nothing new will be revealed. The teams have been chosen and the cheerleaders are getting a bit long in the tooth. For the data you can just go to the NPS Site, (no, ladies, not the Yellowstone site,) but the NPS site about Yellowstone Winter vehicles.

If you bother to check the data you will mobileski.jpgnote that newer: YES NEWER!, vehicles have higher NOx emissions/mile than the older versions. This is the NPS conception of progress. Well, we already knew that.

It’s not about winter use. It’s not about global warming affecting access. It’s not about honesty. It’s certainly not about exhaust & pollution.

It is about differing perceptions of Yellowstone, and it is certainly about skiers vs. sledders, and the sanctimonious cheerleaders on all sides ignoring reality and the future of Yellowstone. Scream on.

wet-sled.jpgNot too far into the current proposed “winter use plan” it will be possible water-skip snowmobiles along the roads in Yellowstone – no matter how many there are. Can you imagine how this will affect a 3-ton snow bus?

For the NPS view of the supposed “winter use plan” visit New Long-term Winter Use Plan, (How long of a term?)

For the Yellowstone view visit Winter Use Planning in Yellowstone. No ladies, they are not the same. For the open comment documents go to Documents Open For Comment. For additional parkspeak go to Links.

Want to learn more about remote sensing of exhaust plumes and emissions for winter vehicles in Yellowstone? Click HERE & HERE.

I promise that the video of this meeting will be hilarious. And I promise that if you don’t speak up now, then you should forever hold your peace.

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By the Bye ——>> Happy “Air Quality Awareness Week.”

Not All Is Negativity

WITH EFFORT IT CAN BE GOOD

I’ve been accused of being too negative about the obsolete Bombardier Fleet running around Yellowstone National Park in the winter. Probably so; and with my own good reasons.

bombardier-air-quality-test.jpgForget for a moment the extensive damage the vehicles do to the visitors ears and the air in the park. Forget for a moment about the enormous amounts of gasoline consumed by these dinosaurs. Forget for a moment that there are no seat belts and that a seat is in the doorway. Forget for a moment that the windows fog up and that you are sitting sideways with other people’s legs on top of yours. Forget for a moment that twisting and craning of your neck is necessary to see. Forget for a moment that the visit is more about riding in the tin drum than it is about the park. Then, the visitor experience can be rewarding.

A testament to the “fun” of cramped and crowded travel can be found at TravelLady Magazine.

Click on over there for a view of the experience that contains a less jaundiced perspective than my eyes provide. To each his own.

Yellowstone: Obsolescense Personified

JUST WHY IS THE NPS SO OBSTINATE ?

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?

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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.

bi_bus

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.”)

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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!

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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!

Yellowstone’s Invisible Smog

IT’S A SMALL, SMALL WORLD

Well, I’m not going to get a cold day for a baseline check against the pre-season calibration curve. So a first final approximation was run on the models. [Blogging will be brief for a time as the computer cranks away and I try to make some sense of the numbers.]

diesel-jeep.jpgTrace elements from various combustion processes are the key to the corridor models and the variations are small – the compounds are too – relatively.

Results from the first final approximation confirm some hypotheses, deny none, and suggest further testing and measurement for others.

With this year’s small increase in snowmobile traffic I now have a basis for comparison to previous “slack year” results. The continued increase in bus, van, coach, and other mass conveyances is also showing some interesting spikes in the trace element analysis.

Without going into great detail, (or stretching the data – yet,) I have some observations to share. These are as far as my contractual stipulations will let me go at this time.

1.} Overall compound, elemental, and particulate densities have risen in the diesel and conventional spectra.

2.} Unburned hydrocarbon and visible spectra indicators are down a significant amount.

3.} The emission levels of diesel combustion byproducts are significant, increasing, and invisible. They include: (excluding the volatile air products such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde: most of the compounds of diesel combustion are found in the gas phase rather than the particulate phase and are) – benzene, formaldehyde, naphthalene, chlorolbenzene, hexavalent chromium, and traces of various mercury – zinc – and lead compounds that exist as singular or multivalent ephemerals.

4.} The gasoline combustion byproducts are, as expected, higher with the increase in additional hours and duration of gasoline engines.

5.} The combined byproduct curves of invisible particulates and volatile air gases are within the predicted ‘significant’ range for daily minimums of toxicity and both adsorption and absorption for pathological results on the coronary artery.

Although research is slim in this area the increase suggests that the combination of diesel and gasoline in winter usage may have significant health affects for park visitors.

diesel-comb-cycle.gif6.} Most of the identified compounds are produced in engines, (both diesel & gasoline,) operating outside their optimal, or design parameters, (for you car nuts this means high RPM inefficiency and low RPM inefficiency; “Over revving,” or “Lugging.”)

This result points to the inappropriate use of automotive engines for conversion vehicles in over-the-snow travel. Although remedies for this are outside the scope of this study at this time, the need for efficient and appropriate winter vehicles is a consideration that has been ignored in the BAT regulations.

The use of contemporary modern vehicle engines designed for automotive vehicles does reduce the suite of emissions under ideal test conditions. Yet, there is neither an engine nor catalytic conversion system that is efficient in the observed results of this study during actual winter travel conditions.

trailer-monitor.jpg7.} The siting of the fixed monitoring stations is a key element in the spurious results of diminished pollutant levels. The transportation corridors are, in effect, linear micro climates that are both produced by, and modified by engine operating conditions; and the time spent by engines in inefficient operation contributes to the particulate and volatile air components of the pollution. In simple terms this means that starting and stopping frequently is a major contributor to the pollution.

The final analysis will be ready in about six weeks – maybe a bit more. I can not be more specific at this time because of contractual agreements. One thing is clear, however; the road to a cleaner Yellowstone area in winter is going to be very, very long if continued use of conventional vehicles modified for over-the-snow travel is the standard. These vehicles are, by their nature – (converted to over-the-snow conveyances,) inefficient – and the pollution will increase as their numbers increase. The same holds true for the Bombardier Snow Bus. The inefficient 1930’s track system can only be improved marginally by the addition of modern gasoline engines.

The simplistic approach to pollution that requires visibility as a standard is wrong. As annoying as the smoke of two cycle combustion is – – – it’s not the most dangerous element in the region adjacent to Yellowstone.

======================

Air pollution used to be defined as something you could see and smell. But as air quality standards have tightened, the air over most localities has gradually cleared. a-uv-gun.gifNevertheless, invisible toxic agents such as ethyl benzene, butadiene and styrene continue to pose risks to public health. These small and invisible agents are increasing in the Yellowstone region.

Much of the data collected for this study is based on the UV detectors developed in England. The system consists of a transmitter that projects a UV (ultraviolet) beam generated by a deuterium lamp across an open path of between 10 – 200 meters to a receiver.

Based on the principle that gases have characteristic “spectral fingerprints,” or in other words absorption lines in the 200 – 300 nanometer UV range. The system uses a patented fourier transform spectrometer to scan the beam for up to 20 toxic and environmentally harmful gases in low parts per billion levels. Although the majority of applications are for fixed installations, the system used here is mobile and can detect transverse as well as linear data. Just aim it like a big radar gun.

Well, it’s late and I’m just plain pooped. More with be forthcoming as time permits.

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