By Jack Welch
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
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