Posted: Mar 13, 2013 8:52 AM by Jay Kohn - MTN News
CHEYENNE, WYO. - Roads into Yellowstone National Park from Wyoming's east and south gates will be plowed this spring if Gov. Matt Mead gets his wish.
With sequestration taking a bite of the park's plowing budget this spring, Yellowstone's gateway communities that depend on tourism dollars face up to a two week delay in getting the roads open.
Mead's proposal would use Wyoming equipment and labor to plow the roads, but relies on local fundraising efforts to pay the bill. Mead credits the cities of Cody and Jackson for helping develop the plan that will be coordinated by local Chamber of Commerce officials.
Cody Country Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Scott Balyo said the governor's plan makes it clear this is a one time only set-up.
"We have said all along that if a solution can be crafted, and if a fundraising effort is needed, this needs to be well understood that this is a one time situation and effort," said Balyo.
"It cannot set a precedent, and next year the responsibility needs to go back to the Park Service for opening the gates in a timely manner, so we're not in this situation again," Balyo said.
Balyo expects to know within a few days just how much money they will need to raise.
That figure depends on how many miles of roads Wyoming ends up having to plow.
"This is a uniquely Wyoming solution that benefits the entire country becasue it gives the public the access to Yellowstone it has typically enjoyed," explained Mead.
"This is also a win for Wyoming's economy because businesses can start hiring on time and providing jobs that people and communities count on," said Mead.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has yet to commit any state resources to help open the park roads. He too is concerned about setting a precedent of using state dollars to help offset lost federal dollars.