BlueRibbon responds to NPS plan

The National Park Service released its final environmental impact statement (FEIS) on winter use in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The FEIS is the latest step in the process of developing a long-term winter use plan for the Parks and includes restrictions on snowmobile access.

If adopted as the final decision, the plan would:
  • Reduce daily snowmobile entries from 720 to 540 units
  • Require 100 percent BAT and 100 percent commercially guided snowmobile access
  • Close the East entrance over Sylvan Pass
  • Cease maintenance of the Continental Divide Scenic Trail, but allow trailering of snowmobiles between Flagg Ranch and Moran Junction
  • Require BAT snowmobiles for fishing access on Jackson Lake.

"We are very disappointed by the level and nature of the access outlined in the FEIS preferred alternative," says Jack Welch, president of the BlueRibbon Coalition. However, Welch notes that the FEIS is not a final decision, and says the temporary plan in place for the past three seasons is likely to continue through the coming winter.

"Regardless of the final decision, the Park Service has announced that a 'transition period' will occur in the upcoming 2007-2008 season in which none of the new restrictions will be implemented," he says. "We are also pleased that the Grassy Lakes Road remains accessible from Idaho with non-BAT sleds to Flagg Ranch, which is popular with some riders and essential to the continued operations of the Ranch."

Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Parks and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway open for the 2007-2008 season Dec. 19. Under the three-year-old temporary use plan, all entrances will be open, including Sylvan Pass; the total number of snowmobiles in Yellowstone will be 720 snowmobiles per day; and all snowmobiles entering the Parks will be BAT and commercially guided.