Yellowstone National Park officials are trotting out their latest proposed winter use plan for public comment this week. The plan describes how park officials believe they can increase the number of snowmobiles per day into the Park, while reducing environmental impacts.
Currently 318 snowmobiles are allowed and the new plan could allow up to 480. Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk says there will be less impact because there will be fewer trips allowed into the Park by guides and others. Snowmobiles and snow coaches will enter Yellowstone in groups. Studies show them that this will reduce the environmental footprint.
“It does allow for some increase in visitation to the Park, which is great for the American Public, they will get to see and experience Yellowstone. But we do believe that Yellowstone will be a quieter, cleaner park then it is under the allowable use that we’ve had over the last 3 winters. ”
The plan also includes a proposal to keep Sylvan Pass open. The Pass is located near Cody and runs from the East Gate of the Park to Fishing Bridge. Opponents have argued that keeping the Cody entrance open is cost-prohibitive. But Wenk noted that there was a lot of interest by community members and political leaders in trying to keep the pass open. But he admitted that it won’t be cheap.
“It will cost us about $125,000 a year to keep Sylvan Pass open. We had just over a 100 people who entered from the east side of the Park last year. So in terms of, if just compare what it costs to keep Sylvan Pass open versus other entrances, it is more expensive than other entrances. ”
Public Meetings on the plan will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 tonight (Monday) in Jackson and Thursday night in Cody.