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July 23, 2008 2:53 pm

Sylvan's long-term future still unsure

Written by Tribune Staff

It's official. Sylvan Pass will be open this winter.
Earlier this week, Park Service Regional Director Mike Snyder signed off on the agreement reached in June that would keep the pass open for winter use.
Many in the Big Horn Basin breathed a sign of relief at the announcement.
People whose incomes are affected by winter tourism and recreation — lodging companies, snowmobile guides, snowcoach operators and restaurants, among others — can rest easy for this winter, at least.
And those who snowmobile for a hobby know that, for the cost of a guide, they can enjoy the park's wintertime splendor — that is, if the daily quota of snowmobilers through the East Gate hasn't already been reached.
But don't breathe too easy.
Gov. Freudenthal is already questioning how long it will last. He said he hopes the Park Service doesn't use the “vague language” of the agreement as “justification for closing” the pass sometime in the future.
And with legal battles continuing over the number of snowmobiles allowed in Yellowstone each day, things are still in a state of flux.
The decision is a temporary reprieve — the pass will be open this winter — but it's certainly not a guarantee for the future.