Public meeting set for Yellowstone winter-use plan

Yellowstone National Park will hold a public meeting on Monday, August 10, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Visitor Information Center in West Yellowstone, Mont., to discuss the park’s draft Winter Use Adaptive Management Plan.

The draft plan outlines a strategy to identify which affected resources should be most closely monitored and evaluated, how these resources should be monitored, and how the National Park Service will continually engage the public throughout the process. It was developed with input from working groups comprised of members of the public who contribute expertise across six impact topics, according to a statement released by the park’s public affairs office.

The morning session of the public meeting will include updates on the development of the draft plan. In the afternoon, park staff will solicit input for prioritizing the metrics for the impact monitoring program. To assist with logistics and preparation, those planning to attend the meeting are asked to email an RSVP to [email protected] by August 6, 2015.

The enjoyment of Yellowstone and its unique resources during the wintertime has drawn deep and passionate interest for over 50 years. The final Plan/Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for winter use was released in February of 2013 and the Record of Decision was signed that September.  In the fall of 2013, the park initiated a Winter Use Adaptive Management Program (WUAMP), which includes public and stakeholder engagement, the design of monitoring tools, and the preparation of an Adaptive Management Plan.

This current draft plan provides direction for the WUAMP, which has three primary objectives: (1) To evaluate the impacts of oversnow vehicle use and help managers implement actions that keep impacts within the range predicted under the final winter use Plan/SEIS; (2) To gather additional data regarding the comparability of impacts from a group of snowmobiles versus a snowcoach; (3) To reduce impacts on park resources after implementation of the final rule by gathering additional data regarding the overall social and ecological impacts of winter use and using that data to guide future management decisions.

The draft plan is currently available for public review and comment on the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website, www.parkplanning.nps.gov/wuamp.  Comments may also be made in person at the public meeting, hand-delivered, or mailed to Christina Mills, Office of the Superintendent, Adaptive Management Plan, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190. The deadline to submit comments is August 21, 2015.

At the conclusion of the public comment period, the NPS will analyze and consider all feedback received for inclusion in the final Adaptive Management Plan, scheduled for release in 2016. For more information about winter use in Yellowstone, as well as the WUAMP, visit www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/winteruse.htm.

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