ALERT: Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Park Winter Use Plans DEIS

SAWS Action Alert

Yellowstone National Park / Grand Teton National Park Winter Use Plans DEIS

Comment Deadline: June 5th, 2007

For your convenience, comments may be submitted using the online form found here:
 Winter Use Plans DEIS comment link

Part of the form includes an option for identifying organization membership.┬á SAWS hopes that you will write ÔÇÿSAWSÔÇÖ or ÔÇÿSnowmobile Alliance of Western StatesÔÇÖ in the organization field, and check the ÔÇÿMemberÔÇÖ box.

You may also mail comments. Be sure to include your name and address if mailing a copy of your letter to:

    Winter Use Planning Team
    P.O. Box 168
    Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190

Previous SAWS Alerts concerning Yellowstone Nationals Park (YNP) & Grand Teton Nationals Park (GTNP) can be found here:
Winter Use and EIS ÔÇô 2005
Temporary Winter Use EA ÔÇô 2004

If you would like to read the plan documents, the latest Winter Use Plans for Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks can be found here:

SAWS supports Alternative 4!

The current winter plan DEIS contains six alternatives.  We are not going to discuss Alternatives 2 and 3 because they are too restrictive; nor Alternative 6 because it adds expenses to an already cash-strapped national park system.

Alternative 1, the preferred alternative, continues the current winter plan which allows 720 snowmobiles into YNP and 140 snowmobiles into GTNP daily.  SAWS sees two problems with the current plan.  First, all snowmobile trips into YNP require commercial guides.  While commercial guiding has all but eliminated speeding and wildlife harassment on the YNP trail system, there is still no option for responsible individuals and groups to enjoy the scenic wonders of the park at their own pace. 

The other problem concerns the closure of Sylvan Pass at the East Gate of YNP to snowmobiles beginning in 2008-2009 while keeping it open to backcountry skiing & snowshoeing.  The National Park Service cites avalanche concerns as justification for this closure, but continuing to allow snow coaches to shuttle backcountry skiing & snowshoeing enthusiasts between the East Gate and Sylvan Pass contradicts this concern.  Winter travel on Sylvan Pass, no matter what means are used, will continue to require avalanche control as long as there is a human presence.  More importantly, the snowmobile closure at the East Gate will severely affect the local winter economy of Cody, Wyoming.

Alternative 5 allows 540 daily snowmobile trips into YNP and 140 into GTNP.  While these numbers fall below those of the preferred alternative, there are allowances for unguided and non-commercial guided trips, and it does not close Sylvan Pass to snowmobiles.  It includes a seasonal entry limit of 27,540 snowmobile trips over an 85 day season.

Alternative 4 allows 1,025 daily snowmobile trips into YNP and 250 into GTNP.  These numbers are the maximum daily trips allowed in the parks by the Winter Use Plan DEIS.  There are allowances for 255 unguided trips and non-commercial guided trips into YNP, and the alternative does not close Sylvan Pass to snowmobiles.  It is by far the least restrictive alternative in the plan.  Most importantly, it addresses the concerns of those visitors that were excluded from the park due to the guiding restrictions in the temporary plan and included in the preferred alternative.  No responsible individual should be excluded from enjoying the scenic and unique qualities of this amazing winter place.

SAWS encourages snowmobilers to support Alternative 4. 

All snowmobiles that enter YNP must meet improved Best Available Technology (BAT) requirements for sound and emission controls.  The park has sufficiently addressed the noise and air pollution issues that prompted the temporary closure to snowmobiling in 2004.  Any unguided travel in YNP requires that visitors attend a short presentation on safety, etiquette, park impact, wildlife interaction and other regulations.  For most of us, these topics are nothing more than a review of our practices used no matter where and when we are snowmobiling.  Most importantly, Yellowstone in the winter can be enjoyed by anyone that wishes to experience it.

Please be sure to personalize your comment letter and include first hand experiences of how your family has enjoyed the park in the past if you have previously traveled through the park.

Do not send numerous copies of identical form letters with the only difference being the name signed at the bottom. They are of little to no value and all of these identical letters will most likely be treated as one comment by the park service.

Thank you all for your interest in and dedication to protecting YOUR right to ride.

Snowmobile Alliance of Western States

Protecting the right to ride for the owners of 303,604 registered snowmobiles (2005) in the western United States.

Copyright ┬® 2007 Snowmobile Alliance of Western States. All Rights Reserved.

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