National Park Service planners will implement a “One-Year Rule” for the
upcoming 2011-2012 winter season, in order to allow time to better address
significant public input regarding the proposed long-term regulation.
More than 58,000 responses were received during the 60-day public comment
period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement that closed on
July 18, with significant input on the the long-term proposal’s
requirements and approaches. The goal had been to have a new long-term
final Winter Use Plan / Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and regulation
in effect for the park by December 2011.
Among the issues that NPS wants to analyze further before issuing a
long-term regulation are:
• Variable preset use limits
• Air quality and sound modeling assumptions
• Proposed Best Available Technology for snowcoaches
• Adaptive management framework for emerging technologies
• Costs of avalanche mitigation efforts on Sylvan Pass
• The 10:30 entry time requirement included in the preferred
• Opportunities for non-commercially guided access
In the near-term, the NPS plans to issue a Final Environmental Impact
Statement and Record of Decision that will select only the
“transition year” portion of the preferred alternative. In addition, the
NPS will issue a final rule—allowing winter use for one year—allowing the
same use levels with the same restrictions as the interim rule that was in
place the past two seasons.
The rule will allow for up to 318 commercially guided BAT snowmobiles and
up to 78 commercially guided snowcoaches per day in Yellowstone for the
2011/2012 season. It will also continue to provide for motorized oversnow
travel over the East Entrance road and Sylvan Pass.
Following the issuance of the Record of Decision and one-year rule, the NPS will
immediately begin work to supplement the Final EIS.
The NPS intends to have a
final supplemental EIS, a long-term Record of Decision, and a long-term regulation in
place before the start of the 2012-2013 winter season.