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Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Don't you hate it when good columnists go bad? I was ticked off yesterday when I read Nicholas Kristoff's op-ed from yesterday entitled "In Praise of Snowmobiles," but couldn't quite form a coherent rant about it. Well, I think I can, now.

Kristoff praises the Bush administration for allowing snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park. He says that the new four-stroke snowmobiles are much quieter and less polluting than the two-stroke variety, and I'm sure that's right. But Kristoff claims that "when the roads are closed in winter, the only alternative to snowmobiles is snow coaches, which are like vans on treads." This is a lie: Yellowstone is open to cross-country skiing and snoeshoeing, according to its web site. He makes another statement which is true, but still ridiculous: "It's pretty clear that without snowmobiles very few Americans will get the thrill of seeing Yellowstone in winter." Ridiculous, because even with snowmobiles, very few Americans will see Yellowstone in winter. I couldn't find the numbers for snowmobile rentals in Yellowstone, but I would hazard a guess that the number of Americans partaking in this is far below the number of Americans who will get the thrill of seeing Iraq this winter. Kristoff claims that animals don't run from the newer, quieter snowmobiles because he saw some. Well, Nick, you didn't see the ones that did run, now did you?

We have boxed nature into tiny little corners in this country, and now Bush and his publicist Kristoff think that it's okay for us to use our expensive toys to trample around even in those little corners. Rather than allowing snowmobiles in Yellowstone, we should be eliminating them, along with SUV's and cars in general, from more and more places, so that Americans won't have to go to Yellowstone to experience nature.