New winter rule proposed for Yellowstone
A proposed rule to manage access for snowmobiles and snow coaches in Yellowstone National Park was released by the National Park Service on Tuesday. The rule proposes to minimize impacts on visitors, air and sound quality, and wildlife.
The rulemaking supports the Final Winter Use Plan Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement released Feb. 22.
Under the preferred alternative, the park would permit up to 110 "transportation events" daily, initially defined as one snow coach or a group of up to 10 snowmobiles, averaging seven snowmobiles per group per season. Up to 50 transportation events may be groups of snowmobiles. Management by transportation events is an impact-centric approach designed to minimize the impact of oversnow vehicles on air quality, soundscapes and wildlife rather than focusing solely on the number of vehicles allowed in the park.
The Park Service said the new approach provides greater flexibility for commercial tour operators and reduces environmental impacts while making the park cleaner and quieter. It is also expected to increase visitation.
The rule is out for 60 days of public review and comment.
Written comments may be submitted through regulations.gov in person, or by mail. Comments will not be accepted by phone, fax or email. All public comments must be received or postmarked by midnight, June 17, 2013.
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