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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Barrasso , R-Wyo., today delivered a letter to Yellowstone National Park ’s Superintendent Suzanne Lewis, outlining his concerns with the gate’s proposed closure during a meeting in his Senate office. The letter follows up on his efforts as a state senator to keep the park’s east entrance open for winter use.

Below is the full text of the letter:

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Superintendent Suzanne Lewis
Yellowstone National Park
P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168

Superintendent Lewis:

As the newest member of Wyoming’s Congressional delegation and a national park enthusiast, I am compelled to comment on the winter use plan for Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Memorial Parkway. Proper management of these national treasures is critical to our state and the nation as a whole.

The “preferred alternative” identified in the National Park Service (NPS) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and subsequent proposed rule published in the Federal Register on May 16, 2007, is not only objectionable to me and the Wyomingites I represent, it is also contrary to the NPS mission. 

The Organic Act of 1916, which created the NPS, clearly states that it is the agency’s duty to provide for visitor enjoyment and access.  Mandating all winter motorized use in Yellowstone be commercially guided and closing the East Entrance ( Sylvan Pass ) to snowmobile and snowcoach access is blatantly adverse to this charge.  In addition, the restrictions contained in the “preferred alternative” would be devastating to communities in my state who not only enjoy winter recreation in the park, but also rely on park access to sustain their winter economies. 

I encourage the NPS to keep Sylvan Pass open to snowmobiles and snowcoaches.  I understand you have concerns about the costs associated with keeping Sylvan Pass open and the safety of those NPS employees and visitors who cross the avalanche zones.  However, I see no credible justification that closure is warranted.  I believe the challenges you assert can be addressed through alternative means, and I am happy to assist in efforts to ensure safety and secure adequate park funding.

I also support self-guided/non-commercial snowmobiles in Yellowstone . 
Denying access that has been responsibly enjoyed by many of us for decades is simply unacceptable.  Some of my fondest memories in Yellowstone were spent snowmobiling though the park.  It is a truly special experience to explore the beauty of the park privately, on one’s own terms.  This opportunity must not be taken away from future generations.

Thank you for your careful consideration of my requests.  I look forward to the release of a more reasonable Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision.


John Barrasso M.D.
United States Senator (R-WY)