Snowmobiles to be Banned from Yellowstone

In November 2000, the National Park Service (NPS) at Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks signed a record of decision formally declaring their intent to phase out recreational snowmobiles from the parks and the adjacent Rockefeller Parkway by the winter of 2003-04. This decision follows an extensive 10-year study and public rulemaking process, during which the NPS analyzed the environmental, wildlife, and public health and safety impacts of snowmobiles in the parks, presented several alternatives to winter management, and evaluated thousands of public comments. The NPS's scientific findings were reviewed by the Environmental Protection Agency, which recommended that the NPS take swift action to relieve the damage being endured by the parks due to snowmobiles.

The Wilderness Society's Yellowstone page.


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Eco-Publishing: Indie Presses Saving the Planet, One Book at a Time

U. of W. Press is "Driven" to Protect the Environment
The University of Washington Press is the nonprofit publishing arm of the University of Washington. For 76 years, UWP has played an important role as the major scholarly publisher in the U.S. north of California and west of the Rockies. The Press has published approximately 2,500 books -- of which about 1,000 are still in print -- and currently publishes about fifty new titles each year.

The Press has achieved recognition as the leading publisher of scholarly books and distinguished works of regional nonfiction in the Pacific Northwest, with titles covering a wide variety of academic fields, notably Asian studies, anthropology, Western history and biography, environmental history, marine studies, and Scandinavian literature. UWP is recognized as the foremost publisher in the country on the art and culture of the Northwest Coast Indians and Alaskan Eskimos, and as a leader in the publication of materials dealing with the Asian American experience. In recent years, the Press has established co-publishing and distribution relationships with a growing list of art museums and other institutions around the world.

Two new titles reflect UWP's prowess in publishing environmental history. Driven Wild: How the Fight against Automobiles Launched the Modern Wilderness Movement, is a startling look at the clash between two American ideals: wilderness preservation and the highways and automobiles the public uses to visit these areas. Drawn to Yellowstone: Artists in America's First National Park illustrates why the first national park in the world was dubbed in the 1890s as "the Nation's Art Gallery," and traces the artistic history of the park from its earliest explorers to the present day.

In Driven Wild, Paul Sutter traces the intellectual and cultural roots of the modern wilderness movement from about 1910 through the 1930s, with tightly drawn portraits of four Wilderness Society founders - Aldo Leopold, Robert Sterling Yard, Benton MacKaye, and Bob Marshall. Each man brought a different background and perspective to the advocacy for wilderness preservation, yet each was spurred by a fear of what growing numbers of automobiles, aggressive road building, and the meteoric increase in Americans turning to nature for their leisure would do to the country's wild places. Leopold is quoted as saying, "...our own states, plastered as they are with National Forests, National Parks and all other trappings of conservation, are so badly damaged that only tourists and others ecologically color-blind can look upon them without feelings of sadness and regret."

In its infancy, the movement to protect wilderness areas in the United States was motivated less by perceived threats from industrial and agricultural activities than by concern over the impacts of automobile owners seeking recreational opportunities in wild areas. Countless commercial and government purveyors vigorously promoted the mystique of travel to breathtakingly scenic places, and roads and highways were built to facilitate such travel. By the early 1930s, New Deal public works programs brought these trends to a startling crescendo. The dilemma faced by stewards of the nation's public lands was how to protect the wild qualities of those places while accommodating, and often encouraging, automobile-based tourism. By 1935, the founders of the Wilderness Society had become convinced of the impossibility of doing both. The 1964 Wilderness Act that eventually resulted from their efforts remains one of the most important environmental laws ever passed in the U.S., and one of its main concerns is to outlaw motorized vehicles and roads from the lands it protects.

Sutter, assistant professor of history at the University of Georgia, demonstrates that the birth of the movement to protect wilderness areas reflected a growing belief among an important group of conservationists that the modern forces of capitalism, industrialism, urbanism, and mass consumer culture were gradually eroding not just the ecology of North America, but crucial American values as well. For them, wilderness stood for something deeply sacred that was in danger of being lost, so that the movement to protect it was about saving not just wild nature, but ourselves as well. This spirit continues to resonate during modern-day debates between preservation and resource development.

Review excerpts:

"One must be impressed by the depth of historical research Sutter does to document the intellectual and philosophical roots of the wilderness movement. Interestingly, the issues he details continue to be the defining issues for the wilderness movement in the twenty-first century." - William H. Meadows, president, The Wilderness Society

"Napoleon famously said that an army travels on its stomach. The destruction of wilderness, however, travels by road. The pioneers of wilderness area protection know this well, as Paul Sutter clearly shows in Driven Wild. All thinking conservationists must read this powerful new exploration of early environmentalism in America." - Dave Foreman, chairman, The Wildlands Project Old Faithful Geyser, Emerald Spring, and the magnificent canyons and falls of the Yellowstone River have been an inspiration to generations of artists. These and other sites, familiar to the millions of visitors who travel through Yellowstone National Park each year, brought out the best in Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Remington, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and dozens of other artists who braved difficult conditions to capture the splendors of Yellowstone. They have portrayed the animals that lived there, the humans who passed through, and above all the remarkable natural features that have made Yellowstone a wonderland to so many artists and observers.

In Drawn to Yellowstone, author Peter Hassrick traces the artistic history of the park from its earliest explorers to the present day. The first national park in the world, Yellowstone was perceived as a vast visual spectacle from the moment of its inception, and by the 1890s was known as "the Nation's Art Gallery." Traveling to the park by automobile is an American tradition carried on by millions of visitors, including the author, who describes his own first visit in 1975: "As I came away from the park...I could not help reflecting that my recollections were as much about people responding to nature as they were about the nature itself."

Yellowstone was simultaneously an aesthetic experience and a potent force in America's search for national identity. Visitors made comparisons between the castles of Europe and the gleaming spires of Yellowstone, to prove that America, too, had its history and its grandeur. It was from Yellowstone that flowed, like the waters that pulse from its geysers, an artistic energy that at once captivated a nation and contributed to its philosophical and aesthetic history. This energy and the images it inspired came to symbolize America much the way the bald eagle does.

Time will tell whether or not the automobile remains an important element of the Yellowstone landscape. Yosemite National Park has had to limit automobile traffic within its boundaries. Will fine print be added to the "For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People" slogan on Yellowstone's stone entryway?

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Peter H. Hassrick is founding director emeritus of the Charles M. Russell Center at the University of Oklahoma, previously serving as the founding director of the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and as director of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming. He has written or contributed to many books, including Remington, Russell and the Language of Western Art and The American West: Out of Myth into Reality

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Driven Wild: How the Fight against Automobiles Launched the Modern Wilderness Movement (April 2002)
by Paul S. Sutter
Foreword by William Cronon
ISBN:0-295-98219-5; 360 pp; 24 illus; 6" x 9"
Price: Cloth: $35.00

Drawn to Yellowstone: Artists in America's First National Park (July 2002)
by Peter H. Hassrick
ISBN: PAPER: 0-295-98229-2; CLOTH: 0-295-98173-3
Paper: $35.00; Cloth: $50.00; 264 pp; 148 illus; 72 in color, 8.5" x 11"
Published with: Autry Museum of Western Heritage, Los Angeles