The National Park Service (NPS) has released a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a Winter Use Plan for Yellowstone National Park. The EIS evaluates eight alternatives, and identifies the Preferred Alternative as Alternative 8, a one-year plan to allow oversnow vehicle use in the park for the winter of 2011/2012, at the same levels (up to 318 commercially guided, best available technology snowmobiles and 78 commercially guided snowcoaches per day) that were allowed under the interim regulation in place for the winters of 2009/2010 and 2010/2011. This plan would be in effect only for the 2011/2012 winter season. To download a copy of the EIS, click on the "Document List" link to your left, and then on the "Yellowstone Final Winter Use Plan/Environmental Impact Statement" link.
NPS had intended to issue a final EIS and final long-term regulation for Yellowstone winter use by December 2011. However, some of the more than 59,000 public comments received on the Draft EIS (DEIS) have raised additional questions as to long-term effects and options. In order to make a reasoned, sustainable long-term decision, NPS requires additional time to update its analyses and make that long-term decision. Selecting Alternative 8, the new Preferred Alternative, would provide the additional time needed to complete the analyses of long-term alternatives.
Under the Preferred Alternative identified in the EIS, NPS would issue a Record of Decision selecting Alternative 8, and following that, would issue a final rule, effective for one year, to implement the decision. NPS would then supplement the EIS next year and issue a new decision and long-term rule for winter use in time for the 2012/2013 season. A separate Notice of Intent to Prepare a Supplemental EIS would be published in the Federal Register.
More information regarding Yellowstone in the winter, including educational materials and a detailed history of winter use in Yellowstone, is available at http://www.nps.gov/yell/planvisit/winteruse/index.htm