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  • Saturday, February 27, 2010

    The Invisible Hand

    The Broth Of Contention
    who gets to visit the park ?
    .. For over 15 years a battle in the courts, on the streets, in the press, and in the halls of congress has raged.
    .. It has been contested by special interest groups of all stripes: bison interests, concession interests, snowmobile interests, park interests, environmentalists all!
    .. They have battled about the kind and number of "over-the-snow" vehicles that should be 'allowed' into Yellowstone National Park during the 'winter season.'
    .. The tunnel vision of the many and diverse groups enjoined in the battle has pushed the discussion to the absurd notion that: "the number of snowmobiles that enter the park is a solution to winter access."
    .. This is a classic example of the Law of Unintended Consequences. Despite the wonderfully human hubristic notion that we can control the world around us, the audacity is overwhelming; and by pretending to do what's best for the park, the consequence is to reduce access to only those able to afford the skyrocketing prices for a visit.
    .. Not a single position paper, legal decision, or environmental argument has seriously addressed the sensible notion that a plowed road is the best access to Yellowstone National Park.
    .. The current situation, in winter, is a consequence of assuming that over-the-snow travel is best. So now, fewer and fewer, richer and richer, visitors are 'allowed' in the park. The invisible hand strikes again.
    .. Concessionaires love the affluent traveler. "Upscale" is a source of constant excitement in the shadowed rooms of hotel offices, tour companies, chambers of commerce, and merchants of gateway communities.
    .. Advocates of diesel belching buses on tracks are revolted by the term "elitist;" yet there it is. The park in winter is returning to it's railroad-driven roots.
    .. Bring the rich. Herd the rich to the right places. Tell them entertaining stories. Take their money, send them away, and call it the "Yellowstone Experience."
    .. Today shepherds on sleds herd their flocks to "THE ATTRACTIONS" and work on a time schedule that leaves little time for personal exploration or just pausing to admire the wonders. Of course, maybe the rich enjoy being herded for a change.
    .. Bus drivers become 'guides' in a quick seminar where the NPS provides the current emphasis and stories for telling.
    .. The rich are gulled into believing that traveling over the snow in a 60-year-old vehicle is part of the 'true' Yellowstone Experience. Certainly far better than driving your own car and enjoying the park with your own family.
    .. There is now a movement afoot to try to dissuade the National Park Service from it's predisposition toward over-the-snow travel. It's been whispered in this town for over 30 years. It's been spoken out loud for the last five or so years.
    .. It has now reached a formal position in: PLOWYELLOWSTONE.org. Mostly, this is a West Yellowstone initiative, however it has adherents at the south & north entrances as well.
    .. And, as you know, the road from Mammoth to Silvergate is a year-round road.
    .. We suggest that you visit the website and read about the rationale behind this thought.
    .. We know that many of our neighbors in Bozeman, Idaho Falls, Ennis, Pocatello, and Salt Lake City would enjoy a personal visit to Yellowstone without the mandatory imposition of an expensive "guided, over-the-snow, experience."
    .. At $100/day/person, (or more,) the current structure of park access certainly mitigates against large families of most economic stripes. It certainly discourages the not too affluent visitor with 3 children.
    .. There is a public comment period for the next 30 days that will allow you to voice your opinion about the winter use plan in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. Too many people fail to use the opportunity because they have become jaded about the outcomes of the process. But as they say in Chicago: vote early and vote often.
    .. What has this to do with fly fishing in Yellowstone National Park? We've heard whispers from very influential people that the best way to preserve the fishing experience in Yellowstone is to increase the cost of the fishing permit, AND add a surcharge for each river, lake, or stream fished.
    .. Certainly $100/day/stream/rod could be afforded by many affluent visitors that fish the park. "It's the upscale crowd that we want!"
    .. We'll keep you posted.