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									             Winter Use Planning in
   Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

April 2004 Update for Montana Governor’s Conference on Tourism
      From February 11, 2004,
   to the end of the winter season
• Yellowstone National Park operated under a
  Superintendent’s Order that called for:
   – 780 snowmobiles per day
      •400 snowmobiles at the West Entrance.
      •220 snowmobiles at the South Entrance
      •100 snowmobiles at the East Entrance
      •60 snowmobiles at the North Entrance
   – All commercially guided
   – 493 Non-Best Available Technology
   – 287 Best Available Technology snowmobiles
    From December 17, 2003 to
        February 10, 2004,
• Yellowstone operated under a Court Order that
   – 493 snowmobiles per day in Yellowstone
      •278 snowmobiles at the West Entrance.
      •90 snowmobiles at the South Entrance
      •65 snowmobiles at the East Entrance
      •60 snowmobiles at the North Entrance
   – All visitors must travel with commercial guides
   – No requirements for BAT
    How Did We Get Here?
• A December 16, 2003 court order required that the
  NPS begin implementing the decision to phase-out
  recreational snowmobiling by the winter of 2004-
• A February 10, 2004 Court Order temporarily
  restrained the NPS from phasing out snowmobiles
  and directed that a temporary rule be implemented
  for winter use that would be fair and equitable to
  all parties.
In the late 1940s: First snowplanes came into the parks
In the mid-1950s, the first snowcoaches entered Yellowstone
In 1963, Snowmobiles were first used in the parks
History of
Winter Use

• 1990: First Winter Use Plan and Environmental
  Assessment completed
• 1993: Winter Visitor Use Management assessment
  process begins (NPS - USFS evaluation of the GYA)
• 1997: The Fund for Animals files lawsuit
• 1999: In January, The Bluewater Network petitions
  the NPS to ban snowmobile use nationwide
• 1998-2000: Winter Use Plan and EIS prepared

• In November 2000 the National Park Service signed a
  record of decision that eliminated recreational use of
  snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton as of
  the Winter 2003-2004.

• On January 22, 2001, the National Park Service
  published final regulations implementing the
  snowmobile ban.
              History, Continued
• In December 2000, ISMA (and others)
  filed suit on the decision (and amended
  the suit in February 2001).

• In June 2001, the ISMA suit was settled
  and a Supplemental EIS was to be
  prepared. The SEIS was to allow for
  more public opinion and look at new
  snowmobile technology.

• On November 18, 2002, the NPS
  published a final rule delaying
  implementation of some elements of the
  January 2001 rule.
A New Winter Use Decision
 On March 25, 2003, the NPS signed a
 record of decision to allow snowmobiles
 to be used in Yellowstone and Grand
 Teton national parks under strict
 Under that decision, the following elements were critical for a
 sustainable winter use decision:
         1. Requirements set for “Best Available Technology”
         2. Daily limit on snowmobile use
         3. Access by guided only
         4. Implement adaptive management program
         5. Develop new snowcoaches
         6. Reasonable phase-in
         7. Fiscal resources in place to effectively manage the
 winter use program
    Snowmobile Best Available Technology
• Cleanest & quietest
  commercially available
• At least a 90% reduction
  in HC, 70% reduction in
  CO (as compared to a 2-
•73 dBA or less for sound
•Approved models:
   • Polaris Frontier 4-strokes for 2002, 2003 and 2004
   • Arctic Cat T660 (4-strokes) for 2002, 2003 and 2004 (non-turbo)
   • Bombardier Ski-Doo Elite and Legend Sport GT V1000 with BAT
     upgrades for 2004
  Snowcoach BAT

• Required stock pollution control equipment be in
  place and not to have exceeded its useful life.
• Sound requirement is 75 dBA
• “Historic” Bombardiers initially exempted.

  Note: Contracts allow for 72 coaches; only 29 of
  which are “historic” Bombardiers.
      Snowmobile Entry Limits
• Decision: 1140 per day maximum
  – West - 550
  – South - 250
  – North - 50
  – East - 100
  – CDST and Grassy Lake Road - 75 each
  – Jackson Lake - 40
• Historic Average: 840 per day in Yellowstone and
  Grand Teton
• Historic Average High Day: 1650 per day
        Guided Access Only
     80% Commercial/20% Self
• Addressed concerns related to wildlife and safety

• Allow private sector to
  manage reservations
  and guiding services, as
  well as assist with
        Adaptive Management:
   Implement - Monitor - Learn - Adjust
• Allows managers flexibility
  to try various management
• Ensures specific resource
  and visitor experience goals
  are met
• Depends on comprehensive
  monitoring for success
 Decisions rest on effective Adaptive Management Program
• The program called for an annual review with
  changes forecasted one to three winters out.
• Most changes to be made at local level by
• More significant changes (BAT, entry limits, guiding)
  notice would be published in Federal Register and
  use 36 CFR 1.7(a) procedures.
New Yellow Bus
                    Current Lawsuits
 The decision to allow snowmobiles was challenged
  by two different groups.
 One group, the Fund for Animals, et al, believes
  road grooming is adversely impacting bison
  distribution and abundance.
 They called for an end to all road grooming, except
  from the South Entrance to Old Faithful, where
  few bison are located.
                   Current Lawsuits
 The second group, the Greater Yellowstone
  Coalition, et al, believes snowmobiles are
  inconsistent with the NPS Organic Act and other
  laws, regulations, and policies.

 They requested that the decision to allow
  snowmobiling be set aside and NPS return to a ban
  on snowmobiles (while allowing and promoting
  snowcoach access).
              The Washington, DC,
             District Court’s Ruling
• The March 2003 decision to allow managed
  snowmobile use was “arbitrary and capricious”
• The SEIS did not fully analyze a “no grooming”
  alternative and did not adequately explain why
  grooming does or does not affect bison
• Vacated the SEIS and ordered the NPS to
  implement the decision to phase-out snowmobiles.
                   Additional Lawsuits
• The State of Wyoming and the International
  Snowmobile Manufacturers Association re-opened
  their lawsuits challenging the decision to phase-out

• Hearings for a temporary restraining order and
  preliminary injunction were held in late-January
  2004 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The order was
  issued February 10 granting the injunction.
                   Additional Lawsuits

• The Fund for Animals requested a hearing in the
  Washington, D.C. District Court on NPS
  compliance with the December 16 order.

• The hearing was March 9, and Judge Sullivan stayed
  the contempt proceedings, with a status briefing
  scheduled for April 14.
• The State of Wyoming and ISMA have stated they
  will appeal Judge Sullivan’s decision to the
  Washington, DC, Circuit Court of Appeals.

• The Department of Justice filed a notice of intent
  to appeal.

• The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denied Greater
  Yellowstone Coalition’s request for a stay of the
  Wyoming District Court’s ruling.
      What is Happening Now?
• We are working closely with officials in the
  National Park Service, the Department of the
  Interior, and the Department of Justice to respond
  to lawsuits and to navigate a course for the future
  of winter use in the three parks.
• However, it would be unfair for everyone involved
  to speculate on what might happen in the future
  regarding current law suits.
                           What Does the
                           Future Hold?
• Yellowstone National Park will be open next winter
  for visitors to enjoy
• Yellowstone will continue working with our
  gateway communities, state tourism offices, and
  other partners to provide accurate information
  about winter activities and opportunities in the
  parks and surrounding areas.
• Website:

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