A new long term plan to manage commercially guided saddle and pack stock trips in Yellowstone National Park has been approved.
A Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was recently signed by Sue Masica, the Director of the Intermountain Region of the National Park Service, completing the National Environmental Policy Act process required for issuing concessions contracts. Public scoping in early 2013 which included meetings in five regional communities resulted in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment which was open to public review and comment for a 60-day period which closed in January 2014.
Current saddle and pack stock contracts expire on December 31, 2015. The park plans to release a prospectus for new contracts sometime this fall, with up to forty-two new contracts to be awarded to take effect January 1, 2016.
Under the selected alternative, saddle and pack stock operations under the new contracts will be subject to a new day-ride reservation system and temporary closures to address resource and safety concerns. The park will also implement a new management strategy based on monitoring the impacts of commercial stock use on vegetation, water, wildlife, and other resources, recommending operational changes and mitigation measures to keep impacts an acceptable level.
Copies of the EA and the FONSI can be found on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/stockEA.