Yellowstone National Park will issue a Final Environmental Impact Statement
(EIS) Friday that ensures the park opens for motorized oversnow travel as
scheduled on Dec. 15. This Final EIS will be available online at parkplanning.nps.gov.
The National Park Service intends to issue a Record of Decision selecting
only the transition year from the preferred alternative, and then publish
and implement a “One-Year Rule” for the upcoming 2011-2012 winter season.
These actions will allow the park to open for winter use on Dec. 15,
and provide for managed motorized oversnow travel over groomed, snow-packed
park roads in the same manner as allowed the past two winters under a
temporary plan. Under the One-Year Rule, up to 318 commercially guided,
Best Available Technology (BAT) snowmobiles, and up to 78 commercially
guided snowcoaches a day will be allowed this winter into Yellowstone
After the Record of Decision and One-Year Rule are published, the National
Park Service will begin working on a Supplemental EIS, which will contain
the further analysis of the issues raised during the public comment period.
Some of the more than 59,000 public comments received on the Winter Use
Draft EIS raised additional questions as to long-term effects and options
regarding winter use in Yellowstone.
Among the subjects identified for further analysis are variable use limits,
a 10:30 a.m. entry requirement, air quality and modeling assumptions,
proposed Best Available Technology standards for snowcoaches, cost of
avalanche hazard mitigation on Sylvan Pass, and opportunities for
non-commercially guided snowmobile access.
A draft Supplemental EIS will be completed and released for public review
and comment in early 2012. The National Park Service intends to have a
final Supplemental EIS, a Record of Decision, and a long-term regulation in
place prior to the start of the 2012-2013 winter season.