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National Park Service To Extend One-Year Rule For 2012-2013 Winter Use Plan

Yellowstone will open to snowmobiles for this winter season

Published online: Nov 05, 2012 News
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By Jack Welch

BlueRibbon Coalition

Update: On Sept. 7 the Park Service announced that it would extend the existing "one-year rule" for another season. The Winter Season 2012-2013 for snowmobile and snowcoach access to Yellowstone National Park will open on Dec. 15, 2012.

What does the extension of the "One-Year Rule" for 2012-2013 Winter Season mean? This means that starting Dec. 15, 2012, 318 commercially guided Best Available Technology snowmobiles and 78 commercially guided snowcoaches will be allowed. The proposed extension will also continue to provide access for motorized travel from the East Entrance road over Sylvan Pass. The extended one-year rule allows the same level of activity as the 2011-2012 season. It means that our combined efforts during the first draft SEIS comment period ending Aug. 20, 2012 made a difference.

The Park Service has now determined that many issues need to be further analyzed before a new long range Winter Use Plan can be put in place for the 2013-2014 season and beyond. This additional analysis will be conducted using the current Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) process which will include the winter season 2012-2013 in Yellowstone.

I have attached the Park Service Media Release with more information on the "One Year Rule" and "Reopened public comment period on the Draft SEIS" that will have ended by the time you read this article.

One of the major issues the Park Service wants to revisit is emissions and sound. Concerns on emissions and sound were highlighted in the EPA's comments. In the EPA's comments during the first comment period on Draft SEIS, the EPA gave the Draft SEIS a "EC-2" status which means "environmental concerns, insufficient information." In lay terms "EC-2" means the Park Service testing procedures and the data it collected are not sufficient to be the base of meaningful or good science conclusions.

Important to note, the emissions and sound testing concerns by the EPA were not just about snowmobiles, they included concerns about the development of Best Available Technology (BAT) standards for emissions and sound for snowcoahes, too. I am glad the Park Service is going to do analysis this winter. Please note, the Park Service plan is to complete the SEIS process next year and have a long term Winter Use Plan for Yellowstone National Park finalized before the 2013-2014 winter season.

In closing this update let me state, please enjoy our continued access to Yellowstone and make your plans to come and enjoy your National Park this winter on a snowmobile.

Note: As additional information on items covered in this summary are announced by the Park Service they will be posted at our dedicated website of www.saveyellowstonepark.com.