Yellowstone National Park taking more input on winter use

Snowmobile use in National Parks is strictly managed, like this tour in Yellowstone, but in some national forests, more management is needed to protect the environment and make sure there are opportunities for quiet, non-motorized use.
Snowmobile use in National Parks is strictly managed, like this tour in Yellowstone, but in some national forests, more management is needed to protect the environment and make sure there are opportunities for quiet, non-motorized use.

Adaptive management plan requires ongoing monitoring and public involvement

Staff Report

FRISCO — National Park rangers in Yellowstone are still grappling with winter use rules in an effort to balance protection of resources with recreation. As part the efforts to finalize an ongoing adaptive management plan, Yellowstone will hold an Aug. 10 public meeting to take more input. The meeting will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Visitor Information Center in West Yellowstone, Montana.

The draft plan under discussion outlines a strategy to identify which affected resources should be most closely monitored and evaluated, how these resources should be monitored, and how the NPS will continually engage the public throughout the process. It was developed with input from working groups comprised of members of the public who contribute expertise across six impact topics.

Specifically, the park service is still trying to figure out how best to evaluate the impacts of over-snow vehicle use, and how to keep those impacts within the range predicted under the plan. The includes trying to understand the relative impacts from a group of snowmobiles versus a snowcoach.

More broadly, the park also wants to gather more information regarding the overall social and ecological impacts of winter use and using that data to guide future management decisions.

The morning session of the public meeting will include updates on the development of the draft plan. In the afternoon park staff will solicit input for prioritizing the metrics for the impact monitoring program. To assist with logistics and preparation, those planning to attend the meeting are asked to email an RSVP to e-mail us by August 6, 2015.
The enjoyment of Yellowstone and its unique resources during the wintertime has drawn deep and passionate interest for over 50 years. The final Plan/Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for winter use was released in February of 2013 and the Record of Decision was signed that September.
In the fall of 2013, the park initiated a Winter Use Adaptive Management Program (WUAMP), which includes public and stakeholder engagement, the design of monitoring tools, and the preparation of an Adaptive Management Plan.
The draft plan is currently available for public review and comment on the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website, www.parkplanning.nps.gov/wuamp. Comments may also be made in person at the public meeting, hand-delivered, or mailed to Christina Mills, Office of the Superintendent, Adaptive Management Plan, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190. The deadline to submit comments is August 21, 2015.
At the conclusion of the public comment period, the NPS will analyze and consider all feedback received for inclusion in the final Adaptive Management Plan, scheduled for release in 2016. For more information about winter use in Yellowstone, as well as the WUAMP, visit www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/winteruse.htm.
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