New Yellowstone and Grand Teton Winter Use Plan Released for Public Review and Comment
Contact: Al Nash, (307) 344-2010
Contact: Stacy Vallie, (307) 344-2012
Contact: Anzelmo, (307) 739-3415
A new long-term plan to guide management of winter use in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway has been released for public review and comment.
The Winter Use Plans Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) looks at a wide range of alternatives to provide for an enjoyable visitor experience while protecting the park’s natural resources.
The National Park Service preferred alternative is similar to the temporary rules which have guided winter use in the parks the last three years. In Yellowstone, it retains the same daily cap of 720 commercially-guided, Best Available Technology (BAT) snowmobiles. The preferred alternative continues to require that snowmobiles and snowcoaches travel only on existing park roads which are groomed for their use. Trail and off-road use of snowmobiles and snowcoaches would continue to be prohibited.
The preferred alternative would institute a daily limit of 78 snowcoaches in Yellowstone, and would phase-in sound and emissions requirements for snowcoaches. There is currently no cap on snowcoach numbers, and no sound or emissions limits. While the East Entrance Road would remain open for ski and snowshoe access, the Sylvan Pass area would be closed to all motorized oversnow travel due to the risk of avalanche danger to visitors and employees.
In Grand Teton and the Rockefeller Parkway, up to 140 snowmobiles would be allowed each day, and most of the snowmobiles would have to meet BAT requirements. Access to the Continental Divide Snowmobile Trail, Grassy Lake Road, Jackson Lake and adjacent public and private lands would continue under the same regulations used the past three winters. Commercial guides would not be required in Grand Teton or the Parkway.
Guided, limited snowmobile access using cleaner, quieter machines has resulted in quieter conditions, clean air, fewer wildlife impacts, and much improved visitor safety and experiences.
All alternatives contained in the Draft EIS are in accordance with all applicable laws, regulations, rules, and the 2006 National Park Service Management Policies.
The National Park Service intends to have a final EIS, a Record of Decision, and a final rule guiding winter use in place before the start of the 2007-2008 winter season.
The Draft EIS and an electronic form to submit comments on the Internet can be found at the National Park Service’s Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov. The Draft EIS 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.
The review and comment period will run for 60 days. The actual closing date for comments is dependent upon the Environmental Protection Agency publishing a Notice of Availability of the Draft EIS in the Federal Register and will be announced at a later date. Written comments may be submitted through the PEPC website, in person, or by mail. Comments will not be accepted over the phone, by fax, or e-mail.A proposed rule to implement the Record of Decision will be released for public review and a separate comment process in the near future.