Ahh, the sounds of winter in Yellowstone National Park. The raspy rustle in the wind of dried leaves that forgot to fall from aspens. The trickling of a creek beneath its sheath of ice. The eruption of a geyser, the gurgling of mudpots, the groaning of ice on Yellowstone Lake.
The explosion of a howitzer round as it smacks into a mountainside.
Yep, that's no typo. True, the sounds of artillery might be more fitting at Gettysburg National Military Park, but Gettysburg doesn't have to cope with avalanches or snowmobilers during the winter months. Yellowstone does and so, in the name of economic development for tiny Cody, Wyoming, located 53 miles east of Yellowstone, Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal says he'll ask his Legislature to spend $35,000 on a refurbished howitzer that could be used to help maintain winter access over Sylvan Pass just inside Yellowstone's east entrance.
Why is it that Glacier National Park officials and Intermountain Regional Director Mike Snyder can tell the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway that there's absolutely, positively no way it can use howitzers to protect the millions of dollars of interstate commerce that roll along BNSF's tracks just south of Glacier, but Yellowstone officials and Regional Director Snyder or even National Park Service Director Mary Bomar won't take a similar stand against howitzers inside Yellowstone?
Of course, the answer to that is Vice President Dick Cheney claims Wyoming, not Montana, as his home state.
And so not only is the National Park Service willing to spend money it doesn't have to try to maintain winter access on a pass Yellowstone officials previously said didn't make sense to keep open, but it is willing to roll out the artillery inside the most famous national park in the world to blast away at the mountainsides.