Gov. Matt Mead on Tuesday approved providing state snow plows and crews to clear roads inside Yellowstone National Park and told communities in northwest Wyoming to go ahead and raise money for the effort.
The Cody Country Chamber of Commerce is ready to do just that, as soon as it gets a total estimated cost, Executive Director Scott Balyo said.
“Before we can fund raise we need to know how much we need to raise,” Balyo said. “It has to be reasonable.”
Spring plowing in Yellowstone has been postponed two weeks to save money amid federal budget cuts. Plowing was scheduled to begin March 4 but is delayed two weeks with the idea of letting warmer weather do much of the work in the weeks ahead.
Businesses near Yellowstone fret that the park won’t fully open to automobiles until one to two weeks later than usual this May.
Their concern prompted officials in Cody and Jackson to discuss other options, including using Wyoming Department of Transportation plows to clear the roads through the park’s east and south entrances.
“This is a uniquely Wyoming solution that benefits the entire country because it gives the public the access to Yellowstone it has typically enjoyed. Yellowstone is spectacular — one of the crown jewels of the national park system — and we want all to be able to experience its many wonders as they have in the past,” Mead said in a written statement.
“This is also a win for Wyoming’s economy because businesses can start hiring on time and providing jobs that people and communities count on,” Mead said.
The estimated cost per mile will be $4,000 to $5,000 but could range higher over Sylvan Pass, a spot just inside the east entrance that’s known for deep snow and avalanches.
Yellowstone typically plows the park from the inside out. The total cost for the WYDOT plowing will depend on how far the Yellowstone plows progress toward the entrances.
Yellowstone and WYDOT officials were discussing those details, Mead spokesman Renny MacKay said.
“It’s just figuring out what the park has to plow and how much the state will plow,” he said.