Wyoming's congressional delegation, concerned about the winter economies of Cody and Jackson, has asked Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to, essentially, order Yellowstone National Park open to snowmobiling this winter.
Of course, not only is it questionable whether the Interior secretary has the authority to issue such an order, but he previously had recused himself from playing a role in the snowmobiling issue because he previously was governor and U.S. senator from Idaho, a state that has an interest in the outcome.
Nevertheless, in a letter dashed off to Secretary Kempthorne just the other day the Wyoming politicians -- U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso and U.S. Rep. Barbara Cubin, all Republicans -- asked that he "put in place a temporary plan that would allow snowmobiles and snowcoaches in Yellowstone" this coming winter.
Here's the text of their letter:
Dear Secretary Kempthorne;
We urge you to take immediate administrative action on emergency rulemaking for winter use in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway. Gateway communities in our state are struggling to prepare for the winter season under the cloud of uncertainty created by recent legal battles over winter use. Immediate action by your Department can help to provide stability to these communities.
As you know, Judge Emmet(t) Sullivan’s ruling on September 15, 2008 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the National Park Service’ plan for winter use management of Wyoming parks. In the wake of this decision and continuing legal battles, administrative action is required to allow snowmobile and snowcoach access to the parks this winter. The many families visiting the Wyoming parks and the small businesses hosting them depend on this immediate action.
We ask that you immediately move forward with plans to prepare and implement an interim plan for the 2008-2009 winter use season in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway. This is a crucial time for business owners and community leaders in Wyoming. The Department of Interior has an opportunity to offer certainty and stability to these communities, despite the ongoing court battles.
____________________ ____________________ ____________________
Senator Michael B. Enzi Senator John Barrasso Representative Barbara Cubin
According to a story in the Billings Gazette, Yellowstone Superintendent Suzanne Lewis told some business leaders from Cody that she's been told she has no legal means to resort to an "administrative fiat" to open the park to snowmobiling this winter.
It's somewhat curious that the Wyoming delegation felt it was necessary to write Secretary Kempthorne. Yellowstone officials earlier this month announced they were working on a plan to let recreational snowmobiles and snow coaches in the park this winter and were confident they'd be able to get the deed done.
What's also interesting is that the letter wasn't co-signed by the Montana delegation, whose state arguably does more in snowmobile business through West Yellowstone, the self-proclaimed "snowmobile capital of the world," than Wyoming's gateway communities do.