Businesses and local residents in Cody and Jackson, Wy., small towns that rely on spending by park visitors for their survival, have donated close to $170,000 to have the high mountain roads at two park entrances plowed.
The park typically plows hundreds of miles of high-altitude, deep-snow roads inside the park, and many others outside, starting March 4. But that was three days after sequestration forced park superintendent Dan Wenk to cut $1.8 million from his budget over the seven remaining months of the fiscal year.
Wenk decided to idle Yellowstone’s plows, letting the early-spring sun melt some of the snow, delaying plowing and opening most park gates two weeks late. The delay would have saved $250,000.
But local communities pressed for an alternative, concerned that the delay would cost them millions of dollars in tourism revenue. Late last week Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R) agreed to back a plan to allow state equipment and highway workers to clear snow along the park’s heavily used east and south entrances — as long as private money paid the bill.