[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 239 (Wednesday, December 12, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 73919-73923]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-29911]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

National Park Service

[NPS-YELL-11802; PPWONRADE2, PMP00EI05.YP0000]

36 CFR Part 7

RIN 1024-AE10


Special Regulations; Areas of the National Park System, 
Yellowstone National Park

AGENCY: National Park Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This rule implements the amended Record of Decision for the 
2011 Winter Use Plan/Environmental Impact Statement and governs winter 
visitation and certain recreational activities in Yellowstone National 
Park for the 2012-2013 winter season. The rule retains, for one 
additional year, the regulation and management framework that have been 
in place for the past three winter seasons (2009-2010, 2010-2011, and 
2011-2012). Specifically, the rule retains provisions that require most 
recreational snowmobiles operating in the park to meet certain National 
Park Service air and sound emissions requirements; requires snowmobiles 
and snowcoaches in Yellowstone to be accompanied by a commercial guide; 
sets daily entry limits on the numbers of snowmobiles (up to 318) and 
snowcoaches (up to 78) that may enter the park; and prohibits traveling 
off designated oversnow routes.

DATES: This rule is effective December 15, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Wade Vagias, Management Assistant's 
Office, Headquarters Building, Yellowstone National Park, 307-344-2035.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The National Park Service (NPS) has managed winter use in 
Yellowstone National Park for several decades. A detailed history of 
the winter use issue, past planning efforts, and litigation is provided 
on the park's Web site, http://www.nps.gov/yell/parkmgmt/timeline.htm. 
The park has most recently operated under a temporary one-year rule (76 
FR 77131). That rule extended for one winter season the daily entry 
limits and operational requirements for snowmobiles and snowcoaches 
adopted by the 2009 interim plan, which had been in effect for the 
prior two winter seasons, but the authorizations of snowmobile and 
snowcoach use expired by their own terms on March 15, 2012.
    On July 5, 2011, the NPS published a proposed long-term rule to 
implement the preferred alternative identified in the Draft Winter Use 
Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) (76 FR 39048). Under that 
alternative, the NPS proposed providing four different use-level 
combinations for snowmobiles and snowcoaches, which would vary 
according to a seasonal schedule. The NPS had intended to issue a 
record of decision and finalize a long-term rule for Yellowstone winter

[[Page 73920]]

use by December 2011. However, some of the more than 59,000 public 
comments received on the DEIS raised reasonable questions as to long-
term management strategies and environmental impacts, and the NPS 
decided to delay implementation of a long-term rule in order to prepare 
a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) further analyzing 
the impacts of winter use under various long-term management options.
    Accordingly, in its December 2011 Record of Decision (ROD) (76 FR 
77249), the NPS announced its decision to select and implement 
Alternative 8 in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). 
Alternative 8 extended for one additional winter season--the 2011-2012 
season--the daily entry limits and operating requirements of the 2009 
rule, which allowed up to 318 commercially guided, best available 
technology snowmobiles and 78 commercially guided snowcoaches in the 
park per day, as well as authorizing a variety of non-motorized uses. 
The DEIS and FEIS contained and analyzed an alternative--identified as 
Alternative 2--implementing those limits and operating requirements 
indefinitely into the future. On December 12, 2011, the NPS published a 
final rule to implement Alternative 8 (76 FR 77131). The NPS believed 
that the additional time afforded by a new one-season rule would allow 
it to complete the SEIS, decide on a long-term plan for managing winter 
use, and promulgate a new long-term rule before the beginning of the 
2012-2013 winter season.
    On June 29, 2012, the NPS released the Draft SEIS and published a 
Notice of Availability in the Federal Register (77 FR 38824). Public 
comment on the Draft SEIS closed on August 20, 2012. The response from 
the public and stakeholders was robust. A majority of the substantive 
comments addressed the proposal in the Draft SEIS's preferred 
alternative to manage snowmobiles and snowcoaches by a new concept 
known as ``transportation events.'' Numerous commenters requested 
additional time to consider this new management concept and to respond 
substantively to it. Accordingly, the NPS decided to reopen public 
comment on the Draft SEIS for an additional 30 days. Mindful of the 
short amount of time left before the opening of the 2012-2013 winter 
season on December 15, 2012, and desiring to take the time necessary to 
make a reasoned long-term decision on winter use, the NPS decided to 
amend the December 2011 ROD to authorize extending the most recent 
winter use management framework for an additional year. The NPS is 
promulgating this new rule to extend for one additional winter season 
the 2011-2012 daily entry limits and operating requirements. The NPS 
intends to complete the Draft SEIS, make a decision on a plan for long-
term winter use, and issue a new long-term regulation for winter use 
before the 2013-2014 winter season.

Analysis of Public Comments

    The public comment period was open from September 4, 2012 to 
October 4, 2012. Comments were accepted through the mail, hand 
delivery, and through the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. The NPS received 33 comments. Most of the comments 
focused on the analysis in the Draft SEIS and addressed issues related 
to long-term management. The NPS will consider these comments regarding 
long-term issues as it works on the SEIS and new rule for the long-term 
winter use plan. A summary of comments and the NPS responses is 
provided below.
    1. Comment: Several comments did not support extending the 2011-
2012 daily entry limits and operating requirements for the 2012-2013 
winter season, and instead favored implementation of Alternative 4 in 
the Draft SEIS.
    NPS Response: As described above, the NPS decided to extend the 
2011-2012 requirements for one additional season to ensure that the 
public would have additional time to consider the new management 
concept in the Draft SEIS and to allow the NPS to make a reasoned long-
term decision on winter use at Yellowstone National Park.
    2. Comment: One commenter stated that all regulation of snowmobile 
use in the park should be removed.
    NPS Response: In the 2011 FEIS, the NPS considered but dismissed an 
alternative that would have removed limits on snowmobile use in the 
park, due to the fact that unmanaged use could result in impairment to 
park resources and values.
    3. Comment: Several commenters stated that the rule should be 
revised to allow fewer snowmobiles and snowcoaches.
    NPS Response: In the 2011 ROD, the NPS determined that use of 
snowmobiles and snowcoaches in the park at the levels allowed in this 
rule is appropriate. The data included in the 2011 FEIS demonstrates 
that allowing 318 snowmobiles and 78 snowcoaches in the park per day 
results in only minor to moderate impacts to park resources, while 
allowing the public to experience the park's unique winter resources.
    4. Comment: Several commenters suggested that the NPS alter the way 
it tests emissions from snowmobiles and snowcoaches.
    NPS Response: The NPS may consider altering the testing standards 
for snowmobiles and snowcoaches as part of the long-term rule. However, 
there is not enough time to alter the testing standards for this rule, 
which goes into effect on December 15, 2012, and applies to the 2012-
2013 winter season only.
    5. Comment: Several commenters suggested that the NPS ban the use 
of snowmobiles and snowcoaches in the park.
    NPS Response: As part of the range of alternatives analyzed in the 
SEIS, the NPS is considering an alternative that would eliminate 
motorized oversnow vehicle use. This rule was promulgated to allow the 
status quo that has governed winter use for the past three seasons 
while the NPS makes a long-term decision about motorized winter use in 
the park.
    6. Comment: Several commenters suggested that the NPS allow only 
snowcoaches in the park.
    NPS Response: As part of the range of alternatives analyzed in the 
SEIS, the NPS is considering an alternative that would prohibit 
snowmobiles and allow only snowcoaches. This rule was promulgated to 
allow the status quo that has governed winter use for the past three 
seasons while the NPS makes a long-term decision about motorized winter 
use in the park.
    7. Comment: Several commenters suggested that the NPS increase the 
number of snowmobiles allowed in the park.
    NPS Response: As part of the range of alternatives analyzed in the 
SEIS, the NPS is considering an alternative that would increase the 
number of snowmobiles allowed in the park. This rule was promulgated to 
allow the status quo that has governed winter use for the past three 
seasons while the NPS makes a long-term decision about motorized winter 
use in the park.
    8. Comment: One commenter stated that the NPS should restrict 
snowmobile use to areas where people and wildlife are not present.
    NPS Response: Under this rule, snowmobile and snowcoach use is only 
allowed on designated routes, which are groomed over roads that are 
used in the summer and provide access from park entrances to the 
interior of the park. There are many additional areas and trails that 
are open to visitors in the park where snowmobile and snowcoach use is 
not allowed.

[[Page 73921]]

    9. Comment: One commenter stated that the NPS should impose 
snowcoach weight limitations that would ban Bombardiers.
    NPS Response: The NPS may consider imposing additional restrictions 
on snowcoaches as part of the long-term rule. This rule was promulgated 
to allow the status quo that has governed winter use for the past three 
seasons while the NPS makes a long-term decision about motorized winter 
use in the park.
    10. Comment: One commenter stated that unguided snowmobile use 
should be allowed.
    NPS Response: The NPS believes that requiring all snowmobile and 
snowcoach trips to be guided reduces law enforcement incidents and 
accidents, and offers the best opportunity for achieving goals of 
protecting park resources and allowing balanced use of the park. The 
guiding requirement has proven effective at keeping groups under the 
speed limits, staying on the groomed road surfaces, reducing conflicts 
with wildlife, and ensuring other appropriate behavior for visitors to 
safely and responsibly visit the park.

Section by Section Analysis

    The NPS is revising Sec.  7.13 paragraphs (l)(3)(ii) and (l)(4)(vi) 
and the introductory text of paragraphs (l)(7)(i) and (l)(8)(i) by 
replacing the terms ``the winter season of 2011-2012'' and ``the winter 
of 2011-2012'' with the terms ``the winter season of 2012-2013'' and 
``the winter of 2012-2013.'' These are the only changes to the existing 
regulations.

Compliance With Other Laws and Executive Orders

Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563)

    Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and 
Regulatory Affairs will review all significant rules. The Office of 
Information and Regulatory Affairs has determined that this rule is not 
significant.
    Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of E.O. 12866 while 
calling for improvements in the nation's regulatory system to promote 
predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, most 
innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. 
The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches 
that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for 
the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, and 
consistent with regulatory objectives. E.O. 13563 emphasizes further 
that regulations must be based on the best available science and that 
the rulemaking process must allow for public participation and an open 
exchange of ideas. We have developed this rule in a manner consistent 
with these requirements.

Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA)

    This rule will not have a significant economic effect on a 
substantial number of small entities under the RFA (5 U.S.C. 601 et 
seq.).
    The NPS used two separate baselines for its regulatory flexibility 
analysis. If no new rule were passed, Baseline 1 would be defined by 
the no-action alternative in the EIS. Under this baseline, no motorized 
oversnow vehicles would be allowed in the park. In addition, the NPS 
defined a second baseline, Baseline 2. Baseline 2 represents the 
continuation of the same levels of use allowed under the 2009 interim 
regulation in place for the past three winter seasons. Under Baseline 
2, there would be a zero net change between the past three years and 
the actions being implemented under this rule, because the rule extends 
the management framework in place the past three winter seasons for one 
additional year. A regulatory flexibility analysis is included in the 
report titled ``Economic Analysis of Winter Use Regulations in 
Yellowstone National Park'' (RTI International, 2011). The NPS has 
reviewed the economic analysis contained in that report and has 
concluded that it still is relevant and that its results would apply to 
the additional year.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA)

    This rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the SBREFA. 
This rule:
    (a) Does not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million 
or more.
    (b) Will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for 
consumers, individual industries, Federal, state, or local government 
agencies, or geographic regions.
    (c) Does not have significant adverse effects on competition, 
employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of 
U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises. This 
rule has no effect on methods of manufacturing or production and 
specifically affects the Greater Yellowstone Area, not national or 
U.S.-based enterprises.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA)

    This rule does not impose an unfunded mandate on State, local, or 
tribal governments or the private sector of more than $100 million per 
year. The rule does not have a significant or unique effect on State, 
local or tribal governments or the private sector. A statement 
containing the information required by the UMRA (2 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) 
is not required. The rule addresses public use of national park lands, 
and imposes no requirements on other agencies or governments.

Takings (Executive Order 12630)

    Under the criteria in section 2 of Executive Order 12630, this rule 
does not have significant takings implications. Access to private 
property located adjacent to the park will be afforded the same access 
during winter as before this rule. No other property is affected. A 
takings implication assessment is not required.

Federalism (Executive Order 13132)

    Under the criteria in section 1 of Executive Order 13132, this rule 
does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the 
preparation of a Federalism summary impact statement. It addresses 
public use of national park lands, and imposes no requirements on other 
agencies or governments.

Civil Justice Reform (Executive Order 12988)

    This rule complies with the requirements of Executive Order 12988. 
Specifically, this rule:
    (a) Meets the criteria of section 3(a) requiring that all 
regulations be reviewed to eliminate errors and ambiguity and be 
written to minimize litigation; and
    (b) Meets the criteria of section 3(b)(2) requiring that all 
regulations be written in clear language and contain clear legal 
standards.

Consultation With Indian Tribes (Executive Order 13175 and Department 
Policy)

    The Department of the Interior strives to strengthen its 
government-to-government relationship with Indian Tribes through a 
commitment to consultation with Indian Tribes and recognition of their 
right to self-governance and tribal sovereignty. We have evaluated this 
rule under the Department's consultation policy and under the criteria 
in Executive Order 13175 and have determined that it has no substantial 
direct effects on federally recognized Indian tribes and that

[[Page 73922]]

consultation under the Department's tribal consultation policy is not 
required. Numerous tribes in the area were consulted in the development 
of the previous winter use planning documents.

Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)

    This rule does not contain any new collection of information that 
requires approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under 
the PRA of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). OMB has approved the 
collection requirement associated with Commercial Services and has 
assigned OMB control number 1024-0125 (expires 03/31/2013). An agency 
may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, 
a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB 
control number.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    This winter use plan and rule constitute a major Federal action 
with the potential to significantly affect the quality of the human 
environment. The NPS prepared the 2011 FEIS under the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969. The NPS has reexamined the analyses 
contained in the 2011 FEIS, as well as new data from the 2011-2012 
winter season, and has amended the December 2011 ROD (76 FR 77249) to 
authorize extending the most recent winter use management framework for 
an additional year. The 2011 FEIS is available for review at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/yell by clicking on the link entitled ``Winter Use 
Plan/EIS'' and then clicking on the link entitled ``Document List.''

Effects on the Energy Supply (Executive Order 13211)

    This rule is not a significant energy action under the definition 
in Executive Order 13211, a statement of Energy Effects is not 
required.

Administrative Procedure Act (Effective Date)

    The National Park Service recognizes that under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) new 
rules ordinarily go into effect thirty days after publication in the 
Federal Register. However, we have determined under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) and 
318 DM 6.25 that good cause exists for this rule to become effective on 
December 15, 2012, for the following reasons:
    (1) A 30-day public comment period was open from September 4, 2012, 
through October 4, 2012, on the proposed rule, during which the NPS 
stated its intent to implement this winter use plan during the 2012-
2013 winter season as an additional transition year. The NPS has 
received voluminous public comment on previous rulemaking efforts 
regarding winter use of the park, including efforts in 2000, 2003, 
2004, 2007, 2008, and 2011. Those rulemaking efforts addressed many of 
the same issues as are addressed in this rulemaking, which simply 
extends existing rules that have been in place for the previous three 
winter seasons.
    (2) The rule implements the winter use plan for Yellowstone 
National Park and allows snowmobile and snowcoach use that otherwise 
would be prohibited.
    (3) Since at least December 2011 the NPS has in good faith publicly 
stated that the 2012-2013 winter season for Yellowstone National Park 
would commence on the traditional date of December 15, and the public 
and businesses have made decisions based on the widespread public 
knowledge of this customary opening date.
    (4) There would be no benefit to the public in delaying the 
effective date of this rule, given that there has already been 
substantial notice of the opening date and that the park will be open 
under conditions substantially similar to those in effect for the past 
three years.
    (5) Many persons planning to visit the park have already made 
travel plans in anticipation of the park being open for snowmobile and 
snowcoach use, such as reserving time off from work, booking airfares 
and hotel accommodations, making reservations for snowmobile or 
snowcoach tours, and the like. The Christmas-New Year period is one of 
the most heavily visited times of the winter season. If the park does 
not open as scheduled on December 15, 2012, it would create unnecessary 
hardship for visitors who have already planned trips, and would likely 
result in economic losses for some visitors if reservations had to be 
cancelled. Significant revenue loss for businesses in and around the 
park would also occur. Many businesses in the gateway communities 
surrounding the park, and the people who rely upon them for their 
livelihoods, are highly dependent upon the park being open for the 
entire duration of the approximately 90-day season.
    (6) Snowmobile and snowcoach operators have made business decisions 
and investments for the winter season premised on an opening date of 
December 15, 2012. Such actions include purchasing new snowmobiles and 
snowcoaches for their fleets, making offers of employment, preparing 
advertising and other materials, and purchasing snowmobile accessories 
such as suits, helmets, boots, mittens, etc. A late opening would 
shorten an already-brief winter season, thereby depriving these 
businesses and others that depend on the winter season (such as hotels, 
restaurants, service stations, and other hospitality-oriented 
businesses) of revenue that is important to their livelihoods.

List of Subjects in 36 CFR Part 7

    National Parks, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    In consideration of the forgoing, the NPS amends 36 CFR part 7 as 
set forth below:

PART 7--SPECIAL REGULATIONS, AREAS OF THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM

0
1. The authority citation for part 7 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1, 3, 9a, 462(k); Sec. 7.96 also issued 
under 36 U.S.C. 501-511, DC Code 10-137 (2001) and DC Code 50-2201 
(2001).


0
2. In Sec.  7.13 revise paragraphs (l)(3)(ii), (l)(4)(vi), (l)(7)(i) 
introductory text, and (l)(8)(i) introductory text to read as follows:


Sec.  7.13  Yellowstone National Park.

* * * * *
    (l) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (ii) The authority to operate a snowmobile in Yellowstone National 
Park established in paragraph (l)(3)(i) of this section is in effect 
only through the winter season of 2012-2013.
* * * * *
    (4) * * *
    (vi) The authority to operate a snowcoach in Yellowstone National 
Park established in paragraph (l)(4)(i) of this section is in effect 
only through the winter season of 2012-2013.
* * * * *
    (7) * * *
    (i) You may operate your snowmobile only upon designated oversnow 
routes established within the park in accordance with Sec.  2.18(c) of 
this chapter. The following oversnow routes are designated for 
snowmobile use through the winter of 2012-2013:
* * * * *
    (8) * * *
    (i) Authorized snowcoaches may be operated on the routes designated 
for snowmobile use in paragraphs (l)(7)(i)(A) through (l)(7)(i)(O) of 
this section. The restricted hours of snowmobile use described in 
paragraphs (1)(7)(i)(M) through (1)(7)(i)(O) do not apply to 
snowcoaches. Snowcoaches may also be operated on the following 
additional

[[Page 73923]]

oversnow routes through the winter of 2012-2013:
* * * * *

    Dated: December 5, 2012.
Rachel Jacobson,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2012-29911 Filed 12-11-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4312-EJ-P