Many snowmobiles on parks list approach noise, carbon monoxide limits |

Many snowmobiles on parks list approach noise, carbon monoxide limits

CODY, Wyo. ” Many snowmobile models recently approved for use in Yellowstone National and Grand Teton national parks approach the limits set for noise and carbon monoxide emissions.

The National Park Service this week released a list of 41 models less than five years old that will be allowed into the parks. The list is part of a rule permitting in the parks only models that make use of the best available technology to limit noise and pollution.

More than half of those models exceed the parks’ 73-decibel noise limit at full throttle. But those models are permitted because of a 2-decibel variance to account for differences in conditions when the models were tested.

As for carbon monoxide, snowmobiles may emit up to 120 grams of carbon monoxide per kilowatt-hour of power produced. Of 24 certified models from 2006 to 2008, 13 emit 120 grams.

The Park Service also has rules preventing snowmobiles that produce too much hydrocarbon pollution from entering the parks, but the approved models don’t come near those limits.

Eight models that exceed the noise or carbon monoxide limits will be allowed into the parks, but only with modifications to prevent operation at full throttle.

John Sacklin, a Yellowstone planner who specializes in snowmobiles, said he’s pleased that snowmobile manufacturers have been producing machines that comply with the rules.

“The important thing is that all the snowmobiles being certified do meet ‘best available technology’ requirements,” he said.

The requirements are part of a temporary plan in place since 2004 allowing up to 720 snowmobiles a day into Yellowstone. A new long-term plan that begins with the winter of 2008-09 will allow up to 540 snowmobiles a day.

Commercial guides must accompany all riders.

Snowmobiles that meet the noise and pollution rules are a niche market. Ed Klim, director of the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, said only a few such machines are built so they can be sold to snowmobile dealers in the region.

“It’s not a moneymaker,” he said.

Klim said most people visiting Yellowstone by snowmobile during the winter aren’t snowmobile enthusiasts. He said manufacturers focus mostly on building better performing snowmobiles for use outside Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

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