World Heritage Committee Still Watching Yellowstone Issues

The World Heritage Committee is not yet willing to let U.S. officials walk away from reporting on progress to protect Yellowstone National Park from threats posed by mining, exotic species, sewage facilities, road problems, and ... snowmobiles.


In a decision actually handed down last July during its meeting in Lithuania, the commission noted concern from non-governmental organizations -- ie. park advocacy groups -- over Yellowstone's proposed winter-management plan, among other issues.


"Considering all the available information, IUCN and the World Heritage Centre conclude that progress is being made in relation to most of the key issues in (Yellowstone)," the committee noted. "However, it will still take time before the activities undertaken fully resolve them. It is therefore important that the State Party (the U.S.) continues its activities and monitoring of its activities, and that it ensures environmental impacts of activities such as rebuilding existing roads and wastewater facilities are minimized and mitigated.


"Furthermore, the State Party is encouraged to find a satisfactory long-term solution for the winter use of the property."


While the U.S. government had asked permission to stop submitting annual reports on the Yellowstone issues, the World Heritage Committee instead called for biannual reports, with the next report due in February 2008. And it encouraged the government to "continue to seek public comments on its progress reports.


In another ruling concerned U.S. national parks, the committee directed the U.S. government to keep the committee informed on efforts to resolve the North Shore Road debate.