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THE NATIONS

Some Snowmobiling Is OK in Yellowstone, Park Service Says

June 26, 2002

CODY, Wyo. -- The National Park Service said Tuesday that it is willing to allow snowmobiling to continue in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks but with "very strict limitations," including use of new technology to limit air pollution and noise.

Park Service officials met with state and county representatives from Idaho, Montana and Wyoming to discuss the controversial issue of winter activities in the two parks.

The overall policy is still being refined.

The park service, during the final days of the Clinton administration, proposed phasing out snowmobiles from the parks by the winter of 2003-04. The snowmobile industry sued and the Bush administration agreed to order a new study of snowmobiling in the region.

The framework outlined Tuesday would allow cleaner-burning and quieter snow machines. It also favors guided snowmobile tours, commercial and private, and proposes a management plan that can change to accommodate new research or studies on such things as effects on wildlife.

Many specifics were unclear, including how many snowmobiles would be allowed and the sort of training some riders would need to lead guided tours.

A final decision is expected in November, with the policy to take effect in the winter of 2003-04.

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