The National Park Service (NPS)
published a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register on Jan. 29,
2010, announcing the start of public scoping for the long-term Winter
Use Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Yellowstone
National Park. This long-term plan will guide the management of
winter use in the park to ensure that park visitors have a range of
appropriate winter opportunities, that these activities are in a
suitable setting, and that they do not impair or irreparably harm
park resources or values.
Scoping is an opportunity early in the
planning and EIS process for the public, organizations, and other
agencies to suggest issues and alternatives that should be considered
by the NPS in preparing the plan and EIS.
"We begin this process with a clear
goal: a winter use plan for Yellowstone National Park consistent with
the NPS mission, best available sound science, accurate fidelity to
the law, and the long-term public interest," said NPS Director
Jon Jarvis. "While the public scoping is just a first step, it
is an important one, and the NPS looks forward to receiving comments
and learning from them," he noted.
The EIS will consider a variety of
alternatives for managing winter use in the park, including: the use
of snowmobiles, snowcoaches, and wheeled vehicles; and guiding
requirements. The EIS will evaluate the environmental effects of
winter use on air quality and visibility, wildlife, natural
soundscapes, employee and visitor health and safety, visitor
experience, and socioeconomics.
A draft EIS and proposed rule are
expected to be released in the spring of 2011 for public review. The
NPS intends to complete the EIS process and issue any new regulations
prior to the start of the 2011-2012 winter season.
Currently, the park is operating under
an interim winter use plan. The interim plan is intended to be in
effect for two winter seasons (through the winter of 2010-2011),
while the NPS prepares this long-term winter plan. The temporary
winter use plan allows for a maximum of 318 snowmobiles in
Yellowstone each day. All visitor snowmobiles in Yellowstone must be
led by commercial guides. All commercially guided snowmobiles are
required to be "Best Available Technology," which are the
cleanest and quietest commercially available snowmobiles. Up to 78
snowcoaches are also permitted each day, and they must be
scoping comments will be accepted until midnight Eastern Time, March
30, 2010. Comments should be substantive, pertinent, and provide new
information not available in earlier winter use planning processes.
Respondents are being encouraged to submit their comments online.
To submit comments in this manner, select "Yellowstone National
Park" from the drop down box and then follow the link for the
winter use plan.
Comments may also be mailed to: Winter
Use Scoping, Yellowstone National Park, P. O. Box 168, Yellowstone
National Park, Wyoming 82190. Finally, comments may be hand-delivered
to Yellowstone National Park headquarters in Mammoth Hot Springs,
Wyoming. Comments will not be accepted by fax, e-mail, or in any
other way than those specified above.
Before including your address, phone
number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in
your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment-including
your personal identifying information-may be made publicly
available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to
withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we
cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
The following is the schedule of public
scoping open houses:
Feb. 16, 2010, Idaho
Falls, Idaho, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Hilton Garden Inn, 700
Feb. 18, 2010, Billings, Montana,
from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Hilton Garden Inn, 2465 Grant
March 15, 2010, Cheyenne, Wyoming, from
6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Little America Inn and Resort, 200 West
March 17, 2010, Washington, D.C.,
from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm in The Old Post Office, 12th Street and
Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
A scoping brochure is available here.
Additional information about winter use planning and visiting the
parks in the winter, can be found here.