[Federal Register: January 29, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 19)]
[Page 4842-4843]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



National Park Service

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 

[[Page 4843]]

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.
    The NPS will be inviting several other government agencies to 
participate in the development of the EIS as cooperating agencies, 
including the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho; the counties of 
Park and Teton, WY; Gallatin and Park, MT; and Fremont, ID; the 
Environmental Protection Agency; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 
and the U.S. Forest Service.
    A scoping brochure has been prepared that details the issues 
identified to date, and includes the purpose, need and objectives of 
the EIS. Copies of the brochure may be obtained online at http://
parkplanning.nps.gov/YELL (click on the link to the Winter Use Plan) or 
from Yellowstone National Park, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National 
Park, WY 82190, 307-344-2019.
    The NPS is interested in obtaining comments from the public on the 
scope of the EIS; the purpose, need, and objectives; the issues that 
the EIS should address; and the alternatives that should be considered 
in the EIS. Comments submitted during this scoping period will allow 
the NPS to address public concerns as the EIS is prepared.
    Background: The NPS is preparing this EIS to develop a long-term 
plan to allow the public to experience Yellowstone's unique winter 
resources and values. Currently, the vast majority of access to the 
park in winter is automobile access in the northern portion of the park 
and snowmobile and snowcoach access through the park's North, South, 
and East entrances. Snowmobile and snowcoach access in the park are 
currently authorized by an interim regulation, which allows their use 
for the winters of 2009-2010 and 2010-2011. The regulation mandates 
that the authorization of snowmobile and snowcoach use ends following 
the winter of 2010-2011, so their use will cease unless a new 
regulation is promulgated. Among other issues, the EIS will consider 
whether continued use of snowmobiles and snowcoaches is appropriate. If 
a determination is made that continued use of snowmobiles and/or 
snowcoaches is appropriate, this EIS is intended to satisfy the 
National Environmental Policy Act requirements for any new regulation.
    Because the interim regulation's authorization of oversnow vehicle 
use is only in effect through the winter of 2010-2011, the NPS intends 
to complete this EIS and issue a new regulation, if necessary, based 
upon the outcome of the EIS process, prior to the start of the 2011-
2012 winter season.
    More information regarding Yellowstone in the winter, including 
educational materials and a detailed history of winter use in 
Yellowstone, is available at http://www.nps.gov/yell/planvisit/

DATES: The National Park Service will accept comments from the public 
for 60 days from the date that this Notice is published in the Federal 
Register. The National Park Service intends to hold public scoping 
meetings in Idaho Falls, ID, and Billings, MT, the week of February 15, 
2010; and in Cheyenne, WY, and Washington, DC, the week of March 15, 
2010. Details regarding the exact times and locations of these meetings 
will be announced on the park's Web site, at http://
parkplanning.nps.gov/YELL (click on the link to the Winter Use Plan), 
and through local media.

ADDRESSES: Information specific to the EIS process will be available 
for public review and comment online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/
YELL (click on the link to the Winter Use Plan), and at Yellowstone 
National Park headquarters, Mammoth Hot Springs, WY.

Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190, (307) 344-2019, yell_winter_

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: If you wish to comment on the scoping 
brochure or on any other issues associated with the plan, you may 
submit your comments by any one of several methods. We encourage you to 
comment via the Internet at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/YELL (click on 
the link to the Winter Use Plan). You may also comment by mail to: 
Yellowstone National Park, Winter Use Scoping, P.O. Box 168, 
Yellowstone NP, WY 82190. Finally, you may hand deliver your comments 
to: Management Assistant's Office, Headquarters Building, Mammoth Hot 
Springs, Yellowstone National Park, WY. Comments will not be accepted 
by fax, e-mail, or in any other way than those specified above.
    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

    Dated: January 8, 2010.
Michael D. Snyder,
Director, Intermountain Region, National Park Service.
[FR Doc. 2010-1914 Filed 1-28-10; 8:45 am]