Yellowstone Draft Winter Use Plan/Draft Environmental Impact Statement
The Draft EIS analyzes a range of alternatives that present different ways visitors could experience the park in winter while protecting the park's natural resources and values. The park analyzed seven alternatives, ranging from not allowing any motorized use, to allowing up to 720 snowmobiles and 78 snowcoaches per day. The park also considered an alternative that would allow commercial, wheeled vehicles to travel on roads that would be plowed from West Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful.
The "preferred alternative" takes a new approach by varying the maximum number of oversnow vehicles (OSV) allowed in the park for certain days and periods during the winter season. This "preferred alternative" would allow varying days of higher and lower numbers of snowmobiles and snowcoaches in the park so that visitors would have a greater variety of motorized and non-motorized experiences throughout the season. Some days could have as many as 330 snowmobiles and 80 snowcoaches in the park, while others could have as few as 110 snowmobiles and 30 snowcoaches. Use of "best available technology" (BAT) snowmobiles would continue, and a new limit on nitrogen oxide emissions would be implemented. By the winter of 2014-2015, snowcoaches would be required to meet or exceed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) 2010 emission standards for new wheeled vehicles.
The comment period is now open and will run for at least 60 days. The actual closing date for comments will depend on what date the EPA publishes a "Notice of Availability" in the Federal Register. That date will be announced soon, so please check back.
Comment Period: 05/05/2011 - 07/18/2011