2012/2013 Supplemental Winter Use Plan EIS
The National Park Service (NPS) has released a Final Winter Use Plan/Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS).
The SEIS analyzes a no-action alternative and three action alternatives that present different ways visitors could experience the park in winter while protecting the park's natural resources and values.
Under alternative 1, the no-action alternative, no snowmobiles or snowcoaches (collectively, oversnow vehicles, or OSVs) would be allowed in the park. Alternative 2 would allow OSV use at the same levels (318 snowmobiles and 78 snowcoaches per day) and with the same restrictions that have been in place the past four winter seasons under interim regulations. Alternative 3 would transition to snowcoaches only over a three year period beginning in the 2017/2018 winter season.
The NPS preferred alternative is Alternative 4. Under this alternative, the park would manage oversnow vehicles based on their overall impacts to air quality, soundscapes, wildlife and visitors, rather than focusing on the number of snowmobiles and snowcoaches allowed in the park each day. The park would allow up to 110 "transportation events" a day, initially defined as either one snowcoach or on average a group of seven snowmobiles. No more than 50 transportation events a day would be allocated for groups of snowmobiles.
The preferred alternative would provide for one entry a day per entrance for a non-commercially guided group of up to five snowmobiles and would continue to allow for motorized oversnow travel on the East Entrance road over Sylvan Pass. The winter of 2013/2014 would be a transition year, during which the park would allow motorized oversnow travel under the same conditions in place for the past four winters: up to 318 commercially guided Best Available Technology snowmobiles and up to 78 commercially guided snowcoaches daily.
A proposed rule to implement the preferred alternative will be released soon for a 60-day public review and comment period.
To download a copy of the SEIS, please click on the "Document List" link on the left of this page, and then on the "Final Winter Use Plan/Supplemental EIS" link. You can request a printed copy of the Final SEIS by contacting the National Park Service, Management Assistant's Office, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190.
The Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park will use the analysis and recommendations contained in the Final SEIS to make a final recommendation to the National Park Service Intermountain Regional Director regarding the direction of winter use. The Regional Director is expected to issue a Record of Decision (ROD) sometime this spring.
Once the Record of Decision has been issued, a final rule to implement the decision will be published in the Federal Register in order to allow the park to open for the winter 2013/2014 winter season.
Wade Vagias, 307-344-2035