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Draft Yellowstone Winter Use Plan's SEIS Is Out. Comments Needed!

August 14, 2012 5:10 PM
Yellowstone National Park: "For the Benefit & Enjoyment Of The People"

Comment Deadline is August 20, 2012!

The Draft Yellowstone Winter Use Plan's SEIS is out for review. The Park Service is on the right track with a combination of Alternatives #2 and #4. Snowmobilers need to comment before August 20th.

Snowmobile access to Yellowstone National Park ended March 15th for the 2011-2012 Season. Without a new Winter Use Plan, we could lose snowmobile access to the Park. We need to support a new Draft Winter Use Plan and its Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), with a combination of the best sections of Alternatives #2 and #4. Your comments on the Draft SEIS will make a difference.

Before starting in on the Draft SEIS, I want to give special thanks to the Yellowstone Task Force members and the organizations they represent, which include leaders from the American Council of Snowmobile Associations (ACSA); the BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC); the International Snowmobile Manufacturer's Association (ISMA); the Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington State Snowmobile Associations; the Wyoming Governor's Office; and local and national governmental entities. Special thanks are also due to the many snowmobile concessionaires in Jackson, Wyoming; West Yellowstone, Montana and gateway community business leaders. All these of these groups helped develop the recommended comment form letter included with this notice.

First off, the July 2012 Park Service Draft Supplemental EIS Public Meeting Presentation, which explains the Draft SEIS action alternatives process, is found at (www.parkplanning.nps.gov/yell). At the website, select "2012 Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement," then click on Document lists.  The preferred Alt. #4 has several highlights.  One of the most important areas to be revisited in Alt #4 in the new SEIS is the opportunity for non-commercially guided access. Yes, the Park Service wants to take a serious look at NOT requiring snowmobilers to hire a commercial guide to access the Park. The other areas that are revised in ALT #4 are variable use limits, air quality and sound modeling assumptions, proposed Best Available Technology (BAT) standards for snowcoaches, adaptive management framework, cost of avalanche mitigation on Sylvan Pass and a new concept for managing daily entries called "Transportation Events".  

In the case of BAT standards, the Park Service should consider Alternative #2, which maintains the existing BAT standards for snowmobiles. These have proven to meet all parks standards and protection needs while allowing managed snowmobiling to continue.

Let's look at the most important part of the Alternative #4, "Transportation Events," from the Park Service Newsletter.  The concept--according to the Park Service--is that a" Transportation Event" would equal the following: one BAT snowcoach entry or an average of up to 7 BAT-snowmobiles in one group, not to exceed 10 would be a "Transportation Event" entry. Depending on the market, each operator (current snowmobile concessionaires) would be issued an allowance for a given number of transportation events and could choose whether to fill the transportation events with snowmobile groups or snowcoaches.  An example would be if an operator had 5 "Transportation Event" entries per day, that operator could have 5 snowcoaches or 5 groups of 7 snowmobiles - for a total of 35 machines, entering the Park. This is a very exciting concept and may be a breakthrough in entry management. The KEY in transportation events is having FLEXIBLE daily entries!  For more details see the Park Service Newsletter.

The Draft SEIS has a very limited comment period that ends on August 20th. The Yellowstone Task Force is reaching out to the snowmobile community and general public.  Please see the comment form letter comment form letter, sign it and mail it the Park Service. Note, only one letter per envelope, and all comment letters must be postmarked by August 20, 2012.

In addition, you can take the information in the comment form letter and use it in your own personal letter.  You can write about your experiences in visiting the Park in winter or your plans to visit in the future by snowmobile. We highly recommend this or that you at least take the time to add your personal experiences. A personal letter always has greater impact.

In closing, please remember that Yellowstone has remained open to snowmobiles since our combined effort began at the International Snowmobile Conference (ISC) in 1997. This is a major accomplishment in our lifetime and a major victory against anti-access extremists.  Enjoy the victory and make your plans to come and enjoy Yellowstone this next winter season on a snowmobile!

Please note that, based on the current schedule for finishing the SEIS process, as well as creating and implementing the rule, the Park will be operating the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons under the same transition plan as 2011-2012.  That plan allows 318 snowmobile and 78 snowcoach entries daily

Download the comment form letter below and mail it in today!
http://brc1.us/ys_seis_comment_letter_08-2012

Please make sure that your comments are mailed by the August 20, 2012 deadline.

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The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible recreation, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. With members in all 50 states, BRC is focused on building enthusiast involvement with organizational efforts through membership, outreach, education, and collaboration among recreationists. 1-800-BLUERIB - http://archive.sharetrails.org.

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