ALERT: Yellowstone National Park Draft Winter Use Plan/DEIS Comment Period

SAWS members,

Once again SAWS is requesting that you submit a comment regarding the YNP Draft Winter Use Plan/DEIS.

Comment Deadline: July 18, 2011

Submit electronic comments here:

SAWS has always taken the firm stance to support the alternative or mix of alternatives that allow for the highest number of snowmobiles in the park per day. Our position has not changed with this latest proposed YNP Winter Use Plan, but it seems like each time around when the National Park Service proposes a new YNP Winter Use Plan, they seem to reduce the maximum number of snowmobiles allowed in the park each day.

This time around the alternatives range from no snowmobiles allowed at all in Alternative 1 to 720 snowmobilers allowed per day in Alternative 3. Here are the details:

ÔÇ£This draft plan/EIS evaluates the impacts of the no-action alternative (alternative 1) and six action alternatives (alternatives 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7).

Alternative 1 would not permit public OSV use in Yellowstone because the 2009 interim rule expired March 15, 2011, but would allow for approved non-motorized use to continue. Alternative 1 has been identified as the NPS environmentally preferable alternative.

Alternative 2 would manage OSV use at the same levels as the 2009 interim rule (up to 318 snowmobiles and 78 snowcoaches per day).

Alternative 3 would allow for snowmobile and snowcoach use levels to increase to the levels set forth in the 2004 plan (up to 720 snowmobiles and 78 snowcoaches per day).

Alternative 4 would allow for commercially guided wheeled vehicles, in addition to OSVs (up to 100 commercially wheeled vehicles, 110 snowmobiles, and 30 snowcoaches per day).

Alternative 5 would initially allow for the same level of use as alternative 2 (up to 318 snowmobiles and 78 snowcoaches per day), but would provide for a transition to snowcoaches only if user demand is present to support such a transition or at the discretion of the park Superintendent. Upon complete transition, there would be zero snowmobiles and up to 120 snowcoaches per day.

Alternative 6 would provide for use levels that vary each day, with a seasonal limit of up to 32,000 snowmobiles and 4,600 snowcoaches, and a daily limit of up to 540 snowmobiles and 78 snowcoaches. Up to 25 percent of snowmobile permits under alternative 6 would be for unguided or non-commercially guided use.

Alternative 7 would also allow for variable use levels throughout the season, with snowmobile use ranging from 110 to 330 snowmobiles per day and snowcoach use ranging from 30 to 80 vehicles per day. The varying use levels would provide for high and low OSV use days, allowing for a variety of motorized and non- motorized visitor experiences throughout the winter season. Alternative 7 is the NPS Preferred Alternative.

The draft plan/EIS analyzes impacts of these alternatives in detail for wildlife and wildlife habitat, air quality, soundscapes and the acoustic environment, visitor use and experience, visitor accessibility, health and safety, socioeconomic values, and park operations and management.ÔÇØ

SAWS supports Alternative 3 which allows for the most snowmobiles per day (720 per day). We also like the wording from Alternative 6, which would allow ÔÇ£Up to 25 percent of snowmobile permits under alternative 6 for unguided or non-commercially guided useÔÇØ – although many snowmobilers would still be required to rent snowmobiles to enter the park to meet best available technology (BAT) requirements.

Therefore, SAWS prefers a modified Alternative 3 allowing 720 snowmobiles per day with 180 (25%) of these snowmobiles per day allowed for unguided or non-commercially guided use.

You can also refer to the BlueRibbon Coalition website for comment suggestions and up-to-date information on the Yellowstone Winter Use Issue.  I see no reason to repeat them all in this email. Access their website here:

You can also refer to some of our more recent SAWS alerts for previous YNP Draft Winter Use Plans for comment suggestions:

Nov. 2008 –

ÔÇ£This plan contained just two alternatives: Alternative 1 – no snowmobiles and no snowcoaches, or Alternative 2 – 318 snowmobiles and 78 snowcoaches per day.ÔÇØ

May 2007 –

SAWS supported Alternative 4, which would have allowed 1,025 daily snowmobile trips into YNP and 250 into GTNP Alternative 1, the National Park Service preferred alternative, would have allowed 720 snowmobiles into YNP and 140 snowmobiles into GTNP daily

Dave Hurwitz
Snowmobile Alliance of Western States

Copyright ┬® 2011 Snowmobile Alliance of Western States. All Rights Reserved.

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