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Snowmobiles in Yellowstone

House Roll Call No. 385
108th Congress, 1st Session

Failed: 210-210 (see complete tally)
Yellowstone National Park, the nation’s first national park, forms the core of one of the Earth’s largest intact temperate ecosystems and provides vital habitat for a range of extraordinary wildlife, including North America’s last free-roaming herd of bison. With nearly 10,000 hot springs and geysers, more than 1,000 historic structures (including five national historic landmarks) and archeological relics that date back nearly 12,000 years, the park is a touchstone to America’s past and core American values.

In recent years, however, this natural and cultural wealth has been threatened by the widespread recreational use of snowmobiles, which pollute the air, degrade the visitor experience and harm wildlife in both Yellowstone and neighboring Grand Teton National Park. In November 2000, following several years of study, the National Park Service announced a planned three-year phase-out of snowmobile use in both parks—a decision supported both by scientists and a vast majority of citizens nationwide. Despite repeated Park Service and EPA findings that snowmobile use should be replaced with cleaner, quieter multipassenger snowcoach access in both parks, the Administration pushed to increase snowmobile use in both parks above the historic daily levels, arguing that “new” snowmobile technology would mitigate past problems.

During House debate on the 2004 Interior appropriations bill, H.R. 2691, Representatives Rush Holt (D-NJ), Christopher Shays (R-CT), Nick Rahall (D-WV) and Tim Johnson (R-IL) offered an amendment to uphold the original ban on snowmobile use in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and promote access to the park via multi-passenger snowcoaches. On July 17, 2003, the amendment failed on a tie vote of 210-210 (House roll call vote 385). YES is the pro-environment vote.

In December 2003, just as the snowmobile season was about to begin, a federal court issued a ruling that reinstated the ban on snowmobile use in both parks, finding that the administration’s decision to allow snowmobiles was politically motivated and violated the park service’s mandate to preserve the parks for future generations. At press time, pro-snowmobile interests were appealing the decision.

Vote Map: House Roll Call No. 385
Votes For : 210
Votes Against : 210
Not Voting : 14


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