Winter Use Plan and EIS for National Parks
Public Scoping Report addresses snowmobiling, snowcoaches, snowplanes
by National Park Service
December 18, 2005
The National Park Service (NPS) announced that a Public Scoping Report is available for the long-term Winter Use Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Memorial Parkway.
Scoping occurred between June 24, 2005, and September 1, 2005. More than 33,000 comment letters were received. Scoping is an opportunity early in a planning and EIS process for the public, organizations, and other agencies to suggest issues and alternatives that should be considered by the NPS in preparing the plan and EIS.
This long-term plan is expected to guide the management of winter use in the three parks and ensure that park visitors have a range of appropriate winter recreational opportunities, and that these recreational activities are in a suitable setting and do not impair or irreparably harm park resources or values.
The EIS will consider a variety of different alternatives for managing winter use in the parks, including alternatives with various limits on the number of snowmobiles that may enter the parks, guiding requirements (including allowing some unguided or non-commercially snowmobile guided use), and allowing only mass-transit snowcoaches.
In addition, the EIS will include alternatives with varying road segments left ungroomed for experimental purposes to address bison use of groomed roads. The EIS will evaluate the environmental effects of winter use on air quality and visibility, wildlife, natural soundscapes, employee and visitor health and safety, visitor experience, and socioeconomics.
A draft EIS is expected to released in the summer of 2006 for public review. The NPS intends to complete the EIS process and issue new regulations (if necessary) prior to the start of the 2007-2008 winter season.
Currently, winter use in the parks is operating under a temporary winter use plan. The temporary plan is intended to be in effect for three winter seasons (through the winter of 2006-2007), while the NPS prepares this long-term winter plan. The temporary winter use plan allows for a maximum of 720 snowmobiles in Yellowstone each day. All recreational snowmobiles in Yellowstone must be led by commercial guides.
In Grand Teton, 50 snowmobiles are allowed per day on both the Continental Divide Snowmobile Trail and the Grassy Lake Road, and 40 snowmobiles are allowed per day on Jackson Lake in order to provide access for ice fishing. With few exceptions, all snowmobiles are required to be "Best Available Technology," which are the cleanest and quietest commercial available snowmobiles. Snowcoaches are also permitted in Yellowstone and the Rockefeller Parkway and are required to have functioning emissions control equipment. Snowplanes are not allowed on Jackson Lake or elsewhere in the three parks.
The report is posted on the web at: Scoping Report Look under "Documents and Plans Currently Guiding Winter Use Management", Scoping Report - December 2005.
More information about winter use planning and visiting the parks in the winter, can be found at http://www.nps.gov/yell/planvisit/todo/winter/index.htm.