Winter Use Plan, Environmental Impact Statement, Yellowstone National Park
AGENCY: National Park Service, Department of the Interior.
ACTION: Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for a Winter Use Plan, Yellowstone National Park.
SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 42 U.S.C. 4332(2)(C), the National Park Service (NPS) is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a Winter Use Plan for Yellowstone National Park, located in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
The purpose of the EIS is to establish a management framework that allows the public to experience Yellowstone's unique winter resources and values. This plan will determine whether motorized winter use of the park (including wheeled motor vehicles, snowmobiles, and snowcoaches) is appropriate, and if so, the types, extent, and location of this use.
A Winter Use Plan is needed at this time because: (1) Yellowstone offers unique winter experiences that are distinct from other times of the year; (2) the National Park Service provides opportunities for people to experience the park in the winter, but access to most of the park in the winter is limited by distance and the harsh winter environment, which present challenges to safety and park operations; and (3) the legal authority for oversnow vehicle use (snowmobiles and snowcoaches) at Yellowstone expires after the winter of 2010-2011. A decision is needed about whether this use should continue, and if so, how to structure use to protect resources and values and to provide for visitor use and enjoyment.
Alternatives considered in the EIS process will focus on responding to the purpose and need, and will also address the objectives of the EIS. The EIS will consider a variety of alternatives for managing winter use in the park, including the use of snowmobiles, snowcoaches, and wheeled vehicles, as well as requirement for professional guides to lead oversnow vehicles into and out of the park. 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.
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