National Park Service has released for public comment a proposed rule to more
effectively manage access for snowmobiles and snow coaches in Yellowstone National Park
while minimizing impacts on visitors, air and sound quality, and wildlife. The
Proposed Rule to guide management of winter use in the park was published in
the Federal Register earlier this week, opening a 60-day public review and
rulemaking process supports the Final Winter Use Plan Supplemental
Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) which was released on Feb. 22, 2013. The
proposed rule and would implement the preferred alternative in the Final SEIS.
the preferred alternative, the park would permit up to 110 "transportation
events" daily, initially defined as one snowcoach or a group of up to 10
snowmobiles, averaging seven snowmobiles per group per season. Up to 50
transportation events may be groups of snowmobiles. Management by
transportation events is an impact-centric approach designed to minimize the
impact of oversnow vehicles (OSVs) on air quality, soundscapes, and wildlife
rather than focusing solely on the number vehicles allowed in the park.
new, practical approach to OSV management also provides greater flexibility for
OSV commercial tour operators, rewards future OSV technological innovations and
reduces OSV-caused environmental impacts all while making the park cleaner and
quieter than previously authorized and allowing for increases in
transportation events per day (one per gate) would be reserved for
non-commercially guided snowmobile access and Sylvan Pass
would continue to be operated in accordance with the Sylvan Pass Working Group
Final Winter Use Plan and SEIS were developed with extensive consultation with
the public, conservation and industry groups. The National Park Service
specifically seeks public comments on the following elements of the proposed
rule: management of OSVs by transportation events, the attainability of the new
Best Available Technology requirements, anticipated costs associated with the
BAT requirements, and the proposed implementation schedule.
winter of 2013/2014 will be a transition year, during which the park will allow
motorized over-snow 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.
proposed rule and an electronic form to submit written comments can be found on
the Internet at www.regulations.gov by searching the "Documents Open For
Public Comment" and selecting the National Park Service as the agency. It is
also available on CD or in hard copy by writing the Winter Use Planning Team, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone
National Park, Wyoming 82190. Written comments may be
submitted through the Regulations.gov website, in person, or by mail. Comments
will not be accepted by phone, fax, or e-mail. All public comments must be
received or postmarked by midnight, June 17, 2013.
information on Yellowstone's winter use
planning process including answers to Frequently Asked Questions can be found
Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park will use the analysis and recommendations
contained in the Final SEIS and comments on the proposed rule to make a final
recommendation to the NPS Intermountain Regional Director regarding the
direction of winter use. The Regional Director is expected to issue the Record
of Decision (ROD) sometime this summer, after which a final rule to implement
the decision will be published in the Federal Register in order to allow the
park to open for the 2013/2014 winter season.