Snowmobile travel in Yellowstone National Park will be restricted to 540 trips per day starting in the winter of 2008-09, the National Park Service decided Tuesday.
Conservationists had wanted a ban on snowmobiling in the park, saying it causes noise and air pollution. In a recent letter, 86 members of Congress — none from states surrounding Yellowstone — asked the National Park Service to phase out snowmobiles due to pollution concerns.
Snowmobiling enthusiasts and some local business owners had wanted the daily limit increased, saying the activity brought income to local economies.
"This decision is fully supported by the science, and I believe it's the best professional judgment of the managers at Yellowstone as well as this region as a way to go forward," said the park service's regional director, Mike Snyder.
Snowmobiling limits this season will remain the same as last year, when 720 commercially guided snowmobiles were allowed in the park per day.
Yellowstone had as many as 1,400 snowmobiles daily during the 1990s, when louder, more polluting two-stroke engines were the norm.
Bill Wade of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees said the decision ignored science and was not good for the park, the park system and the American people.
"It circumvents the conservation emphasis that has guided management of the national parks since the establishment of the National Park Service in 1916," Wade said.
Franz Camenzind, executive director of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, said he could not comment on what options may be available to snowmobile opponents in fighting the decision.
"Ultimately, we would like to see individual snowmobiles phased out of the park," Camenzind said.