By Sonya Angelica Diehn
CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Wyoming claims that it was cut out of a say in writing a federal rule to reduce snowmobile use in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, and that the rule's demand for commercial guides constitutes an unfair tax.
In its federal complaint, Wyoming says the Department of the Interior and National Park Service never gave it an opportunity to "meaningfully participate" in the 2007 rule on winter recreation in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
The rule requires all Yellowstone guides to be commercial, which the state says is a "de facto levy of tax or an unauthorized fee." The regulation failed to consider allowing a "reasonable percentage" of noncommercial guides in the park, the state says.
The federal agencies also failed to provide a "reasoned analysis" supporting the reduction in snowmobile traffic from 720 to 540 per day, the state claims.
The National Park Service in November 2009 published a rule governing snowmobile use in Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park and the scenic highway that joins them. It caps the daily number of snowmobiles at 318, reducing a 2004 rule setting the limit at 720.
Wyoming also claims that a management plan for Sylvan Pass and the revised alternative "as a whole" is inadequate.
Represented by Attorney General Bruce Salzburg, the lawsuit seeks to vacate portions of the rule on snowmobile limits.
Snowmobile use in these National Parks has spurred a stream of litigation for years, with nature-lovers objecting to the noise and pollution of the gasoline-powered vehicles, and snowmobilers demanding greater access.