Wyoming Appeals in Case on Yellowstone Snowmobiles

By Beacon Staff

POWELL, Wyo. – The state of Wyoming and others are appealing a ruling that blocked them from suing the federal government over snowmobile limits in Yellowstone National Park.

At issue is a temporary plan the National Park Service enacted in 2009 that set a limit of 318 commercially guided snowmobile trips per day in Yellowstone, down from 720 in earlier years. The service also limited snowmobile levels in Grand Teton National Park.

The plan for Yellowstone expires after this winter, but the service was working on a long-term winter-use plan.

Wyoming and Park County commissioners had argued the temporary limits would hurt their tax bases and tourism efforts, but a federal judge ruled in September that they didn’t have standing to sue.

The judge said their claims of being economically harmed by the limits were hypothetical. His ruling suggested that snowmobile outfitters and others directly affected by the limits would be the appropriate party to bring a legal challenge.

Wyoming and the county commissioners, joined by the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, filed their appellant brief this week in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. They contended the loss of tourism and tax dollars isn’t hypothetical.

With access to Yellowstone restricted, snowmobilers may cancel their trips, head to Montana instead or head out on other Wyoming trails, the parties said in their appeal.

“It all boils down to our socio-economics of the county, and we’re kind of tied to the hip with how Yellowstone Park is managed,” Park County Commissioner Tim French told the Powell Tribune.

The Park Service has not filed its response with the appeals court yet.

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