Yellowstone Record of Decision
National Park Service Announces Yellowstone Winter Use Plan
On August 21, 2013, the National Park Service (NPS) Intermountain Regional Director approved the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Yellowstone National Park (Park) Winter Use Plan/Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Plan/SEIS).
Approval of the ROD officially completes the Plan/SEIS process, which was conducted in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and included extensive public involvement, including a number of opportunities for the public to submit comments on the Plan/SEIS. The ROD implements most elements of the preferred alternative (Alternative 4) identified in the Plan/SEIS. You can download a copy of the ROD by clicking on the "Document List" link on the left side of this page, and then on the "Record of Decision for the Winter Use Plan/Supplemental EIS" link.
The NPS released the final Plan/SEIS on February 22, 2013. The Plan/SEIS analyzes a no-action alternative and three action alternatives that present different ways visitors could experience the Park in winter, while protecting the Park's resources and values.
Under Alternative 1, the no-action alternative, no snowmobiles or snowcoaches (collectively, oversnow vehicles, or OSVs) would be allowed in the Park. Alternative 2 would allow OSV use at the same levels (318 snowmobiles and 78 snowcoaches per day) and with the same restrictions that have been in place during the past four winter seasons under interim regulations. Alternative 3 would transition to snowcoaches only over a three year period beginning in the 2017/2018 winter season.
The NPS Selected Alternative is Alternative 4. Under this alternative, the Park will 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 will 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 will be allocated for groups of snowmobiles.
The Selected Alternative will provide for one entry a day per entrance for a non-commercially guided group of up to five snowmobiles and will continue to allow for motorized oversnow travel on the East Entrance road over Sylvan Pass. 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.
To download a copy of the Plan/SEIS, click on the "Document List" link on the left of this page, and then on the "Final Winter Use Plan/Supplemental EIS" link. You can request a printed copy of the Plan/SEIS by contacting the National Park Service, Management Assistant's Office, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190.
Because the OSV use will be allowed in the park, a regulation must be promulgated before the decision can be implemented. A final regulation is expected to be published in the Federal Register no later than December 15, 2013, in order to allow the park to open for the 2013/2014 winter season.
Wade Vagias, 307-344-2035
Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association
7040 Lakeland Avenue N., Suite 212, Brooklyn Park, MN, 55428, United States
Phone: 763-577-0185 Fax: 763-577-0186