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No Change For Yellowstone Use This Winter

National Park Service

58,000 comments came in to the National Park Service during the most recent 60-day public comment period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the park’s proposed winter use plan.

Consideration of those comments means no final plan in place this December.

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Yellowstone National Park Superintendent, Dan Wenk says those public comments have triggered some questions that they want to look at more closely. As a result park planners will use a “One Year Rule” and slide implementation of a new winter use plan one more year into the future.

“We could have made a decision to try to plow ahead and fix the issues that came up in public comment. I didn’t believe it was the most prudent way to go. I believe the way were proceeding now honors the process of public comment and I think its the most efficient most cost effective way to move forward.”

Wenk acknowledged that the process has been arduous and expensive with 10 years, and ten million dollars behind them. Now park planners want to further analyze, amongst other things, air and sound quality measurements, cost of avalanche mitigation in Sylvan Pass, and the possibility of access for non commercially guided tours. Wenk says the bottom line is they wont have a final decision and plan in place by December.

“I think the only part of the final decision and rule for 2011-2012 that will be implemented is the transition year and the transition year meaning that we’ll still allow 318 snowmobiles  per day and up to 78 snow coaches.”

Motorized over snow travel over the east entrance will also be continued.

Projecting forward, Wenk says, he believes they will have a long-term regulation in place before the start of the 2012-2013 season.

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