The National Park Service is seeking public comment on an Environmental Assessment that evaluates a plan to issue concession contracts for guided, interpretive saddle- and pack-stock tours in Yellowstone National Park.
The park currently has 44 contracts for guided saddle and pack stock tours. The existing 10-year contracts are set to expire in December, 2013, but have been extended for one year to December, 2014, in order to complete this EA. The intent of the EA is not to eliminate stock use in the park, according to a statement released by the park’s public affairs office, but rather to manage commercial use in accordance with the 1998 NPS Concessions Management Improvement Act and the NPS Management Policies 2006.
This EA analyzes three alternatives:
Alternative A (No Action)—Current contracts would expire on December 31, 2014, and no new contracts would be issued.
Alternative B—Issue up to 44 concessions contracts 10 years in length for saddle- and pack-stock tours with no change in current management actions or resource monitoring.
Alternative C—Issue up to 44 concessions contracts for saddle and pack stock and provide for increased resource monitoring and greater management flexibility to respond to resource impacts.
Under Alternative C, resource monitoring may include a wide range of tools to gather data on backcountry campsites, parking areas and trailheads, and along hiking and stock trails and waterways, where impacts to resources typically occur. Term of the contracts may also be shorter than 10 years. Alternative C is the Park Service’s preferred alternative.
The Park Service is inviting public comment on the proposed plan pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The EA can be found online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/stockEA. A hard copy can also be requested by calling (307) 344-7147, or by writing to Compliance Office, Attention: Commercial Stock Outfitter Concession Contracts EA, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190.
Respondents are encouraged to submit their comments online through the Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) Web site at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/stockEA. Comments may also be mailed to the address above or hand-delivered during normal business hours to the Mailroom in the park’s Administration Building in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming.
Comments will not be accepted by fax, e-mail, or in any manner other than those specified above. Bulk comments submitted in any format on behalf of others will not be accepted. Comments must be received by midnight MDT, Monday, December 9, 2013. After this date, public comments will be evaluated and a decision whether to implement the plan will be made by the Regional Director of the Intermountain Region of the NPS.