October 15, 2009
A new plan to provide for limited, regulated snowmobile access in Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway has been approved. This decision provides long-term direction for winter use management for these park units.
An environmental assessment (EA) and proposed rule were released for public review last fall. Comments received have been reviewed, and a Finding of No Significant Impact has been signed. It is available online at http://www.nps.gov/grte/parkmgmt/planning.htm and http://parkplanning.nps.gov/.
Twenty-five snowmobiles per day, with no best available technology (BAT) or guiding requirement, will be allowed to travel on the Grassy Lake Road to provide access to the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. On Jackson Lake, an initial daily limit of 25 BAT snowmobiles will provide access to ice fishing opportunities for persons possessing appropriate fishing gear and a valid State of Wyoming fishing license. The limit may be increased to 40 snowmobiles per day if monitoring of park resources indicates acceptable conditions. Grooming and motorized oversnow travel on the Continental Divide Snowmobile Trail between Moran Junction and Flagg Ranch will be discontinued.
For Yellowstone, the plan is temporary and would be effective for the next two winters. The Yellowstone plan allows up to 318 commercially guided, BAT snowmobiles, and up to 78 commercially guided snowcoaches in a day for the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 winter seasons. It also continues to provide for motorized oversnow travel over Sylvan Pass and the East Entrance road. During the next two years, the National Park Service will prepare a new Environmental Impact Statement and a new long term plan for winter use in Yellowstone National Park.
Rules to implement the decision will be published in the coming weeks in the Federal Register, to allow the parks to open for the winter season as scheduled on December 15, 2009.
Before operating a snowmobile in Grand Teton National Park, visitors should review current snowmobile regulations and approved BAT machines online at http://www.nps.gov/yell/parkmgmt/current_batlist.htm or stop at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Wyoming.