The National Park Service announced today that is has released a final plan to guide the future of winter use in Yellowstone National Park.
Under the preferred alternative of the Final Winter Use Plan/Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), the park would manage oversnow vehicles based on their overall impacts to air quality, soundscapes, wildlife and visitors, rather than focusing on the number of snowmobiles and snowcoaches allowed in the park each day. The park would allow up to 110 "transportation events" a day, initially defined as either one snowcoach or on average a group of seven snowmobiles. No more than 50 transportation events a day would be allocated for groups of snowmobiles.
The winter of 2013/2014 will be a transition year, during which the park will allow motorized oversnow 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.
Additional information and an electronic copy of the Final Winter Use SEIS is available online.
A proposed rule to implement the preferred alternative will be released soon for a 60-day public review and comment period.
You can request a printed copy of the Final SEIS by contacting the National Park Service, Management Assistant's Office, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190.
The Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park will use the analysis and recommendations contained in the Final SEIS to make a final recommendation to the National Park Service Intermountain Regional Director regarding the direction of winter use. The Regional Director is expected to issue the Record of Decision (ROD) sometime this spring.
Once the Record of Decision has been issued, a final rule to implement the decision will be published in the Federal Register in order to allow the parks to open for the winter 2013/2014 winter season.
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