Proposals involving U.S. public lands require a public comment period. In November last year, when 80 percent of public comments opposed snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park, Interior Department officials dismissed the flood of e-mail on grounds it was a non-representative, orchestrated campaign by environmental groups. They chose instead to admit more snowmobiles of the four-stroke type (somewhat less noisy and dirty than the notorious two-stroke variety). Orchestrated? Probably. But nonrepresentative? Research by National Geographic Traveler magazine (November/December 2000) has found that only 20 percent of outdoor recreationists use off-road motor vehiclessnowmobiles, ATVs, and the likeyet over 70 percent of federal public lands in the lower 49 states are open to such recreation.
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