Betreff: Polluting Yellowstone
Von: Friends of the Earth
Datum: Wed, 11 Jul 2007 14:13:15 -0400 (EDT)

Friends of the Earth
The National Park Service is taking comments on its plans for snowmobile use in Yellowstone.

Tell them their "preferred plan" to expand the use of snowmobiles STINKS!

What would nature loving Americans do if three separate studies showed that a single, preventable type of activity was damaging the majestic Yellowstone National Park?

If you were George Bush's National Park Service, you'd nearly triple that activity!

Yes, it's true. The National Park Service (NPS) proposes Yellowstone guidelines that will nearly triple nitrogen oxide emissions, double hydrocarbon emissions, and push carbon monoxide emissions up 60 percent in the park.

To what end would our government increase such pollution, you ask? To allow a near threefold increase in snowmobiling.

Despite the analyses in 2000, 2003, and 2004 finding current snowmobile emissions and noise levels a threat to the park's health, the NPS just couldn't bear to bridle these fuel-dripping, two-stroke screamers. Instead it seeks to expand the daily number of snowmobiles in the park from an already-harmful 250 to a whopping 720.

Fortunately, the NPS is taking comments right now on the rule change for snowmobile use. While it is pushing its "preferred alternative" to increase the number of snowmobiles in the park, there is another alternative we can support -- "Alternative 2" -- that would allow motorized access through the park only through snowcoach, and would phase out the use of snowmobiles (see below to find out just how dirty snowmobiles are).

Submit your comment now, urging the NPS to adopt "Alternative 2" -- then get everyone you know who cares about the preservation of national parks to send in a comment too.

Using snowmobiles in Yellowstone is a bad idea -- expanding their use there is sheer madness.

Kate Horner
Friends of the Earth

Take action here:

Read the letter urging the phase out of all snowmobiles at Yellowstone, signed by a bipartisan group of every living NPS director but one (under ethics guidelines, the recently retired Fran Mainella cannot comment within a year of departure).

Some Facts About Snowmobiling

Snowmobiles cause far more pollution than automobiles.

Two-stroke engines power nearly all snowmobiles. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), two-stroke engines dump up to 30% of their fuel, a mixture of gas and oil, directly into the environment. By contrast, automobiles are driven by four-stroke engines which release 97% fewer emissions than two-strokes. The California Air Resources Board (CARB), using data from the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, concluded that seven hours on a typical snowmobile produces more pollution than driving a modern car over 100,000 miles!

At Old Faithful, every weekend of snowmobile traffic produces a year's worth of park-wide automobile pollution. In addition, snowmobile advocates often fail to mention the staggering volume of carbon monoxide (CO) spewed from snowmobiles.

According to industry statistics, snowmobiles discharge 1,000 times more CO than automobiles.

Send your comments to the NPS now!

Snowmobiling may causes dizziness, nausea, and headaches.

The snowmobile industry often states that snowmobiling is a healthy way to enjoy the outdoors. But recent tests show that carbon monoxide levels behind a single snowmobile are equal to the Montana State exposure limit designed to protect public health. And rarely is a snowmobile operator exposed to exhaust from only one snowmobile. Most snowmobile enthusiasts spend most of their day riding behind multiple machines, and are frequently exposed to dozens of machines at rest stops, entrance stations, and gas stations.

Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headaches, dizziness, nausea, and impaired judgment. At high levels, carbon monoxide exposure eventually leads to death.

In the areas where snowmobiles congregate, and along busy trails, dangerous carbon monoxide levels exist. After repeated complaints from park employees stationed at snowmobile entrance booths, the National Park Service tested carbon monoxide levels. Levels were found to exceed the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for carbon monoxide. The levels were higher than carbon monoxide levels found in Los Angeles and Denver - two of the country's smoggiest cities.

While the NPS acted to protect rangers by providing respirators and pumping fresh oxygen into enclosed ranger stations, most people exposed to dangerous emissions levels from snowmobiles remain unaware of the problem.

Send your comments to the NPS now!

Snowmobiles injure wildlife.

Snowmobile advocates also claim that snowmobile activity has no impact on wildlife. They even claim that since wildlife use snowmobile trails, snowmobiling is beneficial to animals. Wildlife biologists are discovering otherwise.

According to the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), motorized recreation such as snowmobiling is identified as a "significant threat" to the survival of the Canada Lynx. Snowmobiles are a threat to lynx because snowmobile trails allow bobcats and coyotes to reach habitat that was previously only accessible to the lynx. These new predators reduce the lynx's food supply by eating the rodents, birds, and hares that sustain the cats, causing reductions in the lynx population, and other disruptions in wildlife community balances.

In Yellowstone, snowmobile paths also facilitate the migration of Bison out of the park. Unfortunately, once the bison are beyond park boundaries, agents from Montana's Department of Livestock (DOL) legally shoot them. During the winter of 1997, Department of Livestock agents slaughtered nearly one-third of Yellowstone's bison population. Bison are an important food source for park predators such as the endangered Grizzly Bear and Grey Wolf. Permanent removal of significant numbers of the herd threatens these endangered species.

Finally, noise levels caused by snowmobiles can also cause significant disruption to wildlife, including avoidance of normal feeding grounds and disruption of communication patterns.

Send your comments to the NPS now!

The damage caused by snowmobiles does not disappear with the snowmelt.

At Yellowstone, it is estimated that the 60,000 snowmobiles storming the park each winter dump over 100,000 gallons of unburned gas and more than 2,000 gallons of unburned oil into the park's environment. Studies confirm that the toxins released by snowmobiles can affect water quality and marine ecosystems. Air pollution at trailheads and snowmobile corridors, which often run along rivers and streams, increases the acidic and toxic concentrations of nitrogen, sulfate and hydrocarbon compounds in snow. Elevated levels of NOx cause acid rain and acid snow.

Pollutants from snowmobile emissions, including highly persistent hydrocarbon compounds (PAHs), are "locked" within the snowpack. The toxic effects of accumulated pollutants in the snowpack are magnified during the first few days of spring, when they are released during snowmelt, resulting in higher death rates for aquatic insects and amphibians. This release of pollutants may have far-reaching consequences for surrounding watersheds. Acidity fluctuations can disable a watershed's ability to regulate its own pH level, possibly triggering system-wide problems and resulting in long-term alterations of entire ecosystems.

Land and plants damaged by snowmobiles may not recover until well into the summer; vegetation that is crushed by snowmobiles or broken off at the base may never recover.

Send your comments to the NPS now!

Friends of the Earth
1717 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 783-7400