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Yellowstone Spent $1,096 Per Snowmobiler Coming Through East Entrance


The money Yellowstone National Park spent this past winter to keep Sylvan Pass safe for snowmobilers breaks down to almost $1,100 per snowmobiler, according to park numbers.

The park budgeted $125,000 for snow safety operations, which included firing military artillery rounds onto the mountain flanks above the pass, to protect snowmobile and snowcoach traffic from avalanches, park spokesman Dan Hottle said. 

During this past winter, 114 snowmobiles -- 25 in December, 45 in January, and 44 in February -- entered the park via the East Entrance and over Sylvan Pass, he said.



Perhaps of relevance to this conversation, Gilens (Princeton) and Page (Northwestern) are publishing a study that claims America to be an oligarchy.

It wasn't my intention to get us sidetracked on a discussion about "entitlement programs." My point was the money spent on keeping this road open in the winter benefits only a small number of people, and in tight budget times could be better used elsewhere, or saved altogether. However, to those users, this access is important, and they have been successful in applying political pressure to continue this program. Do those users feel they are "entitled" to have winter access via this route? I can't say, although I admit that was my somewhat satirical suggestion.

To some extent, it's a matter of semantics. I'd suggest virtually all of us "want something" from the government at various levels, whether it be emergency services or good highways. The debate arises when those services (such as the subject of the above story) benefit a small number of people at a relatively high cost.

Sorry-- I don't agree that "everybody wants something". Some of us don't want anything from our gov. other than what we work for-- nothing more and nothing less. No assistance,subsidies,no free food,housing etc,etc. Now if there are those that truelly need it --they should get it--but IMHO there's alot of takers --in fact a whole culture of takers that have developed in this country.

I dunno, risingwolf, everything I can remember having read indicated that NPS management has never done anything but vigorously oppose keeping Sylvan Pass open in winter. Am I wrong?

"Entitlement programs" is a term usually used negatively to describe what someone else gets; never used to describe what you want yourself. And everybody wants SOMEthing.

I was a winterkeeper at Lake Hotel during the 70s, and when I started working in 1975, the road from the East Entrance to Fishing Bridge junction was closed all winter. The NPS kept one (1) seasonal ranger at the East Entrance. The road from Canyon to Lake to West Thumb was not groomed, and staffing consisted of the district ranger at Lake and the district ranger at Canyon. There was more NPS staff at Grant because they groomed to the South Entrance and half-way to Old Faithful. The sub-district ranger for the South Entrance was stationed at Grant. That's it. So when you're considering the cost of keeping the East Entrance open all winter, the NPS has much greater staffing costs now than it used to. Close the East Entrance all winter today, and you could cut a bunch of positions at the East Entrance and Lake--the groomer that takes care of the East Entrance and Sylvan Pass is stationed at Lake. There was "political pressure" from Cody and Wyoming to keep the East Entrance open, but you can bet NPS management wanted to keep the East Entrance to remain open, too. That's the nature of a bureaucracy. Bureaucracies never shrink; they grow. Like cancer.

What constituency is served by keeping the East Entrance open for snowmobiling? A relative handful of Wyoming snowmobilers. Locals. If you're from the West Coast or East of the Mississippi and you're planning a winter vacation in Yellowstone, you'll go in thru West Yellowstone, Jackson and the South Entrance, or Gardiner and the North Entrance--not Cody and the East Entrance.

Bad uses of tax dollars are uses that don't affect oneself or one's pet projects. :)

gutz54 -

I agree a half million dollars or so spent on this one project at Yellowstone (the figure cited above from 2008) is small compared to lots of other programs, but it seems there are lots of better uses for those dollars that would benefit a lot more visitors. And, if the NPS is forced to take some of cuts proposed by Rep. Lummis and associates, this is one example of a cut that would impact relatively few people.

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