On days when snowmobile and snowcoach usage is heaviest in the Park (say, around the Christmas holidays), the limits for snowmobile and snowcoach usage could rise to 330 snowmobiles and 80 snowcoaches, which are more than the existing daily limits. There’s a price to pay for that, though: to make up for the overage, the daily limit could drop to as few as 110 snowmobiles. All vehicles entering the park do so by 10:30 a.m. each day.
Overall, though, the new numbers would represent a decrease in the number of snowmobiles and snowcoaches allowed in the Park: a daily average of 254 snowmobiles and 63 snowcoaches would be allowed during the 90-day winter season, down from the previous limit of 318 snowmobiles and 78 snowcoaches per day. These limits were somewhat misleading; they were rarely reached the past two years.
The new plan would go into effect for the 2011-2012 winter season.
In good news for Cody businesses, the East Entrance and the Sylvan Pass would remain open.
Otherwise, existing limitations in winter usage would continue, such as the requirement that commercial guides accompany snowmobilers. Emissions standards would continue with the requirement for four-stroke engines on the snowmobiles, and by the winter of 2014-2015, snowcoaches would be required to meet 2010 emission standards for new wheeled vehicles. Snowcoaches also would be required to meet a new ground-surface weight limit of 4.5 pounds per square inch to limit potential damage to park roads.
The park will hold six public meetings: four local meetings in communities near the park and two national meetings. Evening public meetings are scheduled for June 1 in Jackson, June 2 in Cody, June 7 in West Yellowstone, June 8 in Bozeman, June 21 in the Denver area, and June 23 in Washington, D.C. (More details about meeting locations to be released.)
The draft Winter Use Plan is available online; you can view all the documents here. A final deadline for comments has not been set.