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Washington, D.C. –U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., believes the U.S. Department of Justice's motion to the Federal District Court in Wyoming to stay its earlier Yellowstone Park snowmobile ruling could eliminate some of the uncertainty that plagued local businesses and Park visitors last winter.

"The Department of Justice and the National Park Service are showing they recognize the urgency of moving this process forward now so that we have a winter use plan in place," Enzi said. "We have to have a plan in place as soon as possible so that the businesses and people who are most affected by this decision know with certainty what restrictions will be in effect this winter. They need to be able to plan accordingly. One of the most troubling aspects of this process is the uncertainty local businesses and travelers have faced."

In December, just before the snowmobile season in Yellowstone and Grand Teton Parks, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington, D.C., issued a ruling that would severely cut the number of snowmobiles allowed in the parks this year and phase them out all together the next season. In February U.S. District Judge Court Clarence Brimmer of Wyoming issued a preliminary ruling that if moved through the legal process would in effect nullify Sullivan's ruling. Brimmer set up a schedule for briefs to be filed and an Aug. 20 hearing that would most likely formally approve his preliminary ruling.

The Department of Justice's request to Brimmer to stay his decision is designed to help the Park Service act swifter and negate the need for the formality of the hearing. The Park Service announced it will put together a new, Temporary Winter Use Plan Environmental Assessment that would last for up to three years. After that, it will issue a permanent rule in 2006 or 2007 for the park.

The Park Service, taking into account existing data, is beginning its environmental assessment on the impacts of a temporary winter use plan with strict limitations on snowmobiles and snowcoaches. The agency has committed to having a draft assessment ready for public comment by August 20.

The Park Service said a temporary plan would allow long-term analysis and formation of a permanent regulation for winter use of the Parks.

Enzi said it is essential the Park Service include local perspective in any new plans.

"Any new proposals from the Park Service should include the views of people in the communities that are most affected by the decision. They are the ones in the front car of this roller coaster. Their understanding of the situation must be given the weight it deserves," Enzi said.

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