Record of Decision for the Winter Use Plan/Supplemental EIS
National Park Service Intermountain Regional Director John Wessels formalized how Yellowstone National Park will manage winter use in the park when he signed a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Winter Use Plan/Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Plan/SEIS). The ROD implements most elements of the preferred alternative from the Plan/SEIS.
"This winter use plan is the product of hundreds of hours of public involvement, is based on sound science, and is a different approach to winter use management. The Plan/SEIS and ROD provide mechanisms to make the park cleaner and quieter than ever before authorized, allow greater flexibility for commercial tour operators, reward oversnow vehicle innovations and technologies, and permit increases in visitation," said Yellowstone superintendent Dan Wenk.
Beginning with the 2014-2015 winter season, a fixed maximum number of vehicles allowed in the park each day will be replaced with a new, flexible concept of transportation events, defined as one snowcoach or a group of up to 10 snowmobiles, averaging seven seasonally. Commercial tour operators will be able to use their allocated transportation events for snowmobiles, snowcoaches, or a mix of both, as long as no more than 50 of the authorized 110 daily transportation events are snowmobiles.
The plan also allows for one entry a day per entrance for a non-commercially guided group of up to five snowmobiles. It would continue to allow for motorized oversnow travel on the East Entrance road over Sylvan Pass.
Because the Regional Director's decision will allow OSV use in the park, a regulation must be promulgated before the decision can be implemented. A final regulation is expected to be published in the Federal Register in early fall.
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