Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have appropriated $200,000 for a study of wolves' reintroduction into Yellowstone National Park, a plan vehemently opposed by Wyoming's congressional delegation but supported by Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah.
The funding was contained in a $9.8 billion fiscal 1989 spending bill for the Interior Department, the U.S. Forest Service and related agencies.Also included in the measure was an extra $2 million for Yellowstone's winter operations and an additional $327,000 for energy research at the University of Wyoming's Western Research Institute.
The funding measure, which passed Thursday night by a vote of 359 to 45, is the product of a House and Senate conference committee that resolved differences between the two chambers.
Conferees said they agree "that the return of the wolf to Yellowstone is desirable."
Members of Wyoming's congressional delegation have objected strongly to both the study and the re-introduction itself. They argue in part that a return of the carnivores to the country's first national park could threaten livestock grazing on land adjacent to the park.
However, the report also lists five areas of concern that the report should address:
-Whether wolves would be controlled inside or outside the park.
-How wolves would affect big game populations and hunting in areas around Yellowstone.
-How reintroduction of the carnivores would affect efforts to preserve Yellowstone's grizzly bear population.
-How boundaries of a wolf management zone should be drawn.
-Coordination of wolf management between the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Conferees also deleted a Senate provision that would have guaranteed that revenue from increased park patronage is not used to offset reduced funding from other sources.
However, conferees did direct the National Park Service to submit an additional budget proposal for fiscal 1990 that treats fee income as a separate, supplemental source of funding.
With the additional funding for the winter programs, Yellowstone will have another $1.4 million for construction and $600,000 for operations. The National Park Service also was directed to improve winter housing for Yellowstone employees.
The funding for WRI boosts the agency's total allocation to more than $4.7 million.