Eighty-Six Members Of Congress Can’t Read

I DON’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP — I COULDN’T

I’m constantly hearing and bombardier-air-quality-test.jpgreading about how the “SCIENCE” tells us that snowcoaches are better for Yellowstone National Park than are snowmobiles. First off, “SCIENCE” tells us nothing about good and bad, or better and worse. Secondly, summer pollution in Yellowstone is higher than winter pollution. Thirdly, dirty old Bombardier snowcoaches produce more pollution than clean new 4-stroke snowmobiles

If “SCIENCE” tells us anything, it is the following: 1] people don’t care about the stink of summer, 2] people would rather pollute in winter with nostalgic obsolescence than have clean transportation, 3] 86 members of congress haven’t looked at the data.

You do know, don’t you, that we have decided that it’s pollution from vehicular emissions that are harmful to the park. It’s not the type of machine that counts, it how dirty or clean it is!

An Associated Press Article tells us that New Jersey Rep. Rush Holt is leading another congressional charge to rid Yellowstone of snowmobiles. I suggest that he and his 85 other ill-informed colleagues read the:

FINAL
AIR QUALITY MODELING REPORT
SNOWMOBILE AND SNOWCOACH EMISSIONS
WINTER USE PLAN
Environmental Impact Statement
YELLOWSTONE and GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARKS and the
JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER, JR., MEMORIAL PARKWAY

In case he can’t read, I’ve reproduced two summary tables for him to review. There is nothing about good or bad, better or worse in the tables, but there is something about how the snowcoaches pollute and how the snowmobiles pollute. I just hope that he can count.

SNOWMOBILE TABLE

snmbl.jpg

 

SNOWCOACH TABLE

snch.jpg

The bottom right cell in each table is the telling comment, if any, from “SCIENCE.”

If Mr. Holt wants a simple version he, (or one of his junior staff,) can go to the NPS Nature & Science site and see how the current growing fleet of diesel buses are about to increase pollution. Below is an interesting table from that report if he can’t find the appropriate button on his mouse.

snch-00.jpg

I realize that appealing to members of congress will get me nowhere. However I can appeal to the people who really care about Yellowstone National Park — PLEASE ELECT CONGRESSIONAL RPRESENTATIVES THAT CAN AND WILL READ.

nono.jpgworse-than-snowmobile.jpgThere are better ways to visit Yellowstone in winter than in obsolete, noisy, gas guzzling, polluting, Bombardier snowcoaches. There are better ways to visit Yellowstone in winter than in a fleet of diesel buses that are converted for over-the-snow travel. There are better ways to treat our national parks in both summer and winter. Just think about it.

Do It All Yellowstone

ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE

Well, I’m still tired and work is consuming most of my energy, but I find it interesting that wd-kil.jpgthe NPS has not figured out that Yellowstone can’t be all things to all people. The concept of compromise reigns supreme in the minds of politicians, bloggers, cheerleaders, and NPS planners.

Take invasive species in Yellowstone for an example. The National Park Service spends tens of thousands of dollars trying to eradicate botanical species, (but not in Mammoth where they save them to feed the pet elk,) and hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to remove Lake Trout. Yet they encourage and even protect invasive and non-indigenous trout to placate the fly fishing industry in parts of the park that were fish-free. This is “compromise,” and it is successful only in encouraging the spread of additional invasive species, (like the mud snails and whirling disease,) on the one hand, and increasing resident invaders, (Lake Trout,) on the other.

bis-360-x-270.jpgThe NPS just released the Summer bison population estimate. The herd is within 200 individuals of the historic high of 4,900. Unlike Wind Cave National Park, Yellowstone continues to “compromise” its bison management plan to make sure that neither ranchers, tourists, bison advocates, nor news hounds are too badly offended. Keep it up and soon the park will be so deep in poo that someone will be offended – they will eventually eat themselves out of forage.

And, of course, we have finally heard from the New York Times on the “compromise” winter use plan. Again, by reducing snowmobiles, the park increases pollution by increasing diesel buses. The planners of Yellowstone seem not to have heard of the concept of constraint. Given the demand for winter visitation in Yellowstone, transportation must accommodate it. Certainly we shouldn’t limit visitation.

Given a totality: reduction of one part must necessarily result in the increase of another part. Given the totality of the ever increasing numbers of fishermen, there is a reduction in the opportunities for a solitary yus.JPGfishing experience. Given the totality of available bison habitat, the increase of bison results in the reduction of available forage. Given the totality of numbers of winter visitors, the reduction of clean snowmobiles results in the increase of dirty diesel buses, and the retention of obsolete and dirty Bombardier snowcoaches.

Since the planners in Yellowstone refuse to set limits on fishing, bison, and pollutants; all will increase as they play a numbers game. It’s not the number of snowmobiles that count – it’s the pollution that’s important. Bless the capitalists that are now propagating fleets of diesel buses to invade Yellowstone in winter, (just like Yosemite in Summer.)

fis-375-x-244.jpgBless the feather merchants that continue to encourage fishing for non-native species and the spread of mud snails and whirling disease. Bless the bison advocates that encourage the herd to proliferate and eat so much ground cover that the rivers are muddied.

Soon there will be confrontations between the fishing industry and the bison advocates. Soon there will be confrontations between diesel buses and bison. Soon there will be a park that is all things to all people and then – finally, there may be planning that is sensible and acknowledges the concept of constraint. Well probably not in my lifetime.

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

As a pertinent aside, check out the note about Lions For Lambs on You Tube.

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.

snowshoes.jpg

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.

Toledo Would Rather Rant Than Read

I GUESS THE WHINE IS STRONGER THAN REASON

There are still whiners fighting the “snowmobile wars” of 15 years ago. They certainly seem to be living an uninformed fantasy in Toledo.

dumb.jpgA recent editorial at the ToledoBlade.com website could easily have been written 10 years ago. The same old, and absolutely false – today, phraseology is used. The language is charged with words and phrases that exude ignorance of the current situation. It’s a shame they don’t turn their Pulitzer-Winning brains to the facts of this matter.

I just can’t believe that the good folks of Toledo believe this kind of whining. They can’t all be illiterate. What does the author mean by: “The vehicles erode the air quality in the park, adversely affecting the health of visitors, employees, and wildlife.” – as I’ve noted before, (just search ‘snowmobiling‘ or read the data,) the current fleet of 4-cycle snowmobiles is as clean as the vans, and cleaner than the diesel buses and the Bombardier fleet. Poor Toledo, being fed such pap!

And the author bemoans: ” . . . keep tourist dollars flowing and 720 snowmobiles per day whizzing through Yellowstone.” The only whizzing through Yellowstone is being done by the Park Service’s own 2-cycle snowmobiles – some chasing the speeding Bombardiers. The guided snowmobile groups follow the same speed limits as all vehicles, and do it better than the enclosed vehicles. Or maybe “whizzing” means something else in Toledo.

What does the author mean by: “The noise levels, also unacceptably high, shatter the quiet splendor of the park in winter.” Golly Gee, sister; the buses, coaches and bombardiers are all louder than the current generation of sleds. Poor Toledo, they’ll believe anything. [The report says: “Although on average snowmobiles were audible for more time than snowcoaches, snowcoaches in general had higher sound levels, especially at higher speeds. The reduced sound and audibility in the report is largely explained by fewer snowmobiles in the park, the guided group requirements and the change from two to four-stroke engine technology.”]

What does the author mean by: “Loud snowmobiles that emit harmful exhaust gases into the air should be banned in national parks.” Well, dufus – they have been banned: best read a little bit before your vomit up such tripe.

Does the author really believe: “And another study on the environmental impact of the noise and air pollution associated with snowmobile traffic will undoubtedly yield the same conclusions of prior studies on the subject.” The studies, (obscenely expensive and occasionally redundant, have shown differences as technology and regulations have changed.) Maybe nothing changes in Toledo.

I wonder what the author means by: “But when it comes to conservation, and one of the country’s most magnificent natural wonders, Americans cannot allow Yellowstone to be surrendered to lobbyists and commercial interests.” Does this mean that it should be surrendered to psudo-journalists ranting against a situation that no longer exists? Should we surrender the park to uninformed editorial writers? Where have these folks been for the last ten years – Toledo?

The sad truth is that the grotesque amount of money spent by the NPS, and the public results that are available, have not been read or studied by the whiners or the cheerleaders. This sort of dunderheaded resistance to facts and figures will continue to plague not just Yellowstone but the whole sphere of visitation in the national parks. And, girlfriend, ignorant diatribes like this will not help a thing.

Finally, the author says: ” . . . the administration is prepared to ignore public and scientific opinion and act unilaterally to implement its snowmobile policies.” Poor thing, willing to ignore scientific opinion in favor of their own uniformed view.

Now then, don’t get me wrong, snowmobiles have a long way to go before they are the perfect winter transportation for Yellowstone. The snowmobile industry needs to fully embrace the concept of clean and pleasant transportation. So too does the NPS. The real issue is winter access for all. The current solution fails on numerous counts: cost, intimacy, pollution, and others come to mind. Nothing is perfect in the NPS. But, girlfriend, tilting at windmills is not going to improve matters.

The current proposed policy substitutes expensive access in polluting enclosed vehicles for unlimited access in any vehicle. It’s a step. Is it in the right direction?

But, like they say; ‘If it plays in Peoria Toledo . . .’ — well, we will see.

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.

=========

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.

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

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.

. . . 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.

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

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

Yellowstone’s Planning Failure(s)

IT’S IMPERATIVE THAT THEY BE INFORMED

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.

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