NPS plans to extend Yellowstone snowmobile rules

Associated Press Modified: August 31, 2012 at 4:32 pm •  Published: August 31, 2012
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YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — The National Park Service plans to extend the existing rules on snowmobile and snowcoach use in Yellowstone National Park for another winter.

The proposal announced Friday would continue the rules that have been in place for the past three winters. It would allow up to 318 commercially guided snowmobiles and up to 78 guided snowcoaches in the park each day.

The Park Service also will reopen the comment period on the proposed long-term winter plan.

In June, the agency proposed increasing traffic to a maximum of 480 snowmobiles plus 60 snow coaches per day.

The number of snowcoaches could double in the future if they meet noise and pollution standards under the long-term plan.

"As we look to the 2012-2013 winter season, we want to provide a safe and positive experience for our visitors," superintendent Dan Wenk said in a statement. "Today's approach ensures that there will not be interruptions to access this winter, and also responds to public requests for additional review and comment on the long-term plan."

Accommodating snowmobile traffic at Yellowstone has been a contentious issue for more than a decade. Officials have floated a series of proposals and have faced court challenges and environmental appeals.