The National Park Service on Friday morning released a preferred alternative plan plan for the future of winter use in Yellowstone National Park. The following is from a news release from the Park Service on it's proposal. The plan still must undergo a 60 day public comment period before the Park Service's Intermountain Regional Director issues a Record of Decision on the plan.

Under the preferred alternative of the Final Winter Use Plan/Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), the park would manage oversnow vehicles based on their overall impacts to air quality, soundscapes, wildlife and visitors, rather than focusing on the number of snowmobiles and snowcoaches allowed in the park each day.  The park would allow up to 110 “transportation events” a day, initially defined as either one snowcoach or on average a group of seven snowmobiles.  No more than 50 transportation events a day would be allocated for groups of snowmobiles.   

The preferred alternative would provide for one entry a day per entrance for a non-commercially guided group of up to five snowmobiles.  It would continue to allow for motorized oversnow travel on the East Entrance road over Sylvan Pass.

The winter of 2013/2014 will be a transition year, during which the park will allow motorized oversnow travel under the same conditions in place for the past four winters: up to 318 commercially guided Best Available Technology snowmobiles and up to 78 commercially guided snowcoaches daily. 

Additional information and an electronic copy of the Final Winter Use SEIS is available online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/yell.

A proposed rule to implement the preferred alternative will be released soon for a 60-day public review and comment period.