The snowmobile controversy in Yellowstone National Park not only pits snowmobilers against environmentalists, but it also pits the Bush Administration against the Clinton Administration. Caught in the middle are the National Park Service, scores of natural and social scientists, and Yellowstone's permanent residents - the flora and fauna. The controversy's political aspects are the focus of this paper; specifically, the tenuous relationship among research scientists, whose job it is to inform management and policy decisions; politicians, whose job it is to formulate those same decisions in the public arena; and public land management agencies, whose job it is to implement the decisions. The crux of the paper concerns the politicization of natural resource policy and ways in which research scientists tend to get caught up in it. Lessons learned from this Yellowstone episode regarding the role of science in policy-making processes are also considered. Two recent federal court rulings shed additional light on the politics surrounding Yellowstone's snowmobile controversy, as does the importance of governmental checks and balances in resolving natural resource management disputes.
- Public land management agencies
- Yellowstone National Park