Yellowstone National Park begins its winter season as scheduled tomorrow, even though there was some concern the park wouldn't have enough snow on its roads.
Despite the goal to have a permanent plan in place for winter usage by this season, the long-awaited plan has been pushed back once again with managers now estimating instatement by the 2013-2014 season. Yellowstone winter access has been a subject of recurring court battles since the Clinton administration.
Most recently, Park County, the state and the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association Inc. requested a rehearing by petition after a federal ruling erased state and county rights to challenge federal snowmobile rules. The rehearing was requested on the grounds that winter access greatly affects local economies, thus giving some standing for regions to influence access rules.
Such actions continue to push the finality of Yellowstone's rules, forcing temporary rule sets year after year. The rules for this season, like the last three seasons, allow for 318 BAT (best available technology) commercially guided snowmobiles and 78 commercially guided snowcoaches per day. This is a comparative trickle when considering 2007 rules allowed for 540 snowmobiles and 83 snowcoaches and 2008 rules actually increased snowmobiles allowed to 720 while limiting snowcoaches to 78.
Though the season opens tomorrow through the west, south and north entrances, entrance from Cody through Sylvan pass will open a week later just ahead of Christmas.
In early 2013, the National Park Service intends to issue a final supplemental environmental impact statement and a proposed rule to guide long-term winter use in Yellowstone. Public scoping for the plan and environmental impact statement began in January 2010.
For more Daily news click here and look under 'Breaking News'