[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 238 (Monday, December 12, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 77131-77133]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-31781]



National Park Service

36 CFR Part 7

RIN 1024-AD92

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

AGENCY: National Park Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: This rule implements the 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 2011-2012 winter season. The rule retains, for one 
additional year, the regulations and management framework that have 
been in place for the past two winter seasons (2009-2010 and 2010-
2011). 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; require snowmobiles 
and snowcoaches in Yellowstone to be accompanied by a commercial guide; 
set daily entry limits on the numbers of snowmobiles (up to 318) and 
snowcoaches (up to 78) that may enter the park; and prohibit traveling 
off designated oversnow routes.

DATES: This rule is effective December 15, 2011.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Iobst, Deputy Superintendent, 
Yellowstone National Park, (307) 344-2002.



    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 
in the background section of the 2011 Environmental Impact Statement 
(EIS), available at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/yell. The park has most 
recently operated under the 2009 interim plan, which was in effect for 
the past two winter seasons and expired by its own terms on March 15, 
    On July 5, 2011, NPS published a proposed long-term regulation to 
implement the preferred alternative identified in the Draft EIS. Under 
that alternative, NPS proposed providing four different use-level 
combinations for snowmobiles and snowcoaches, which would vary 
according to a seasonal schedule. Snowmobile use would have ranged from 
110 to 330 vehicles per day and snowcoach use would have ranged from 30 
to 80 vehicles per day.
    NPS had intended to issue a Final EIS and final long-term 
regulation for Yellowstone winter use by December 2011. However, some 
of the more than 59,000 public comments received on the Draft EIS 
raised reasonable questions as to long-term effects and options, and 
NPS has decided to delay implementation of a long-term rule. In order 
to make a reasoned, sustainable long-term decision, NPS requires 
additional time to update its analyses.
    In the Record of Decision for the 2011 EIS, NPS identified 
Alternative 8 as the selected action to be implemented. Under 
Alternative 8, the 2009 interim regulation will remain in effect for 
one additional year, the 2011-2012 winter season. Accordingly, up to 
318 commercially guided, best available technology snowmobiles and 78 
commercially guided snowcoaches will be allowed in the park per day; a 
variety of non-motorized uses will also be allowed.
    In the proposed rule (76 FR 39049), NPS stated its intent to 
implement a

[[Page 77132]]

``transition year'' for the 2011-2012 winter season, under the same 
requirements and restrictions as the 2009 interim regulation. 
Implementation of the transition year through this regulation will 
provide the additional time needed to complete the analyses of 
alternative long-term management strategies. NPS intends to complete a 
supplemental EIS, make a decision on a plan for long-term winter use, 
and issue a new regulation for winter use before the 2012-2013 winter 
    Additional information regarding winter use at Yellowstone National 
Park is available online at: http://www.nps.gov/yell/parkmgmt/participate.htm.

Analysis of Public Comments

    The public comment period was open from July 5, 2011, to September 
6, 2011. Comments were accepted through the mail, hand delivery, and 
through the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. NPS 
received approximately 165 timely comments. All of the comments focused 
on the analysis in the Draft EIS and addressed issues related to long-
term management, except for one substantive comment regarding what is 
being implemented under this rule, the ``transition year.'' NPS will 
consider the comments received regarding long-term issues as it works 
on the supplemental EIS and a new proposed and final rule for the long-
term winter use plan.

Comment Response

    1. Comment: Under ``Description of Proposed Rule'' it stated the 
``transition year'' would allow 38 snowcoaches per day; it should have 
stated up to 78 snowcoaches would be allowed per day.
    Response: NPS agrees that the number 38 was a typographic error (76 
FR 39049), and notes that the correct number, 78 snowcoaches, was 
printed correctly in a different section on the same page. During the 
one-year implementation of this regulation, NPS will allow up to 78 
snowcoaches per day into the park.

Section by Section Analysis

    NPS is revising Sec.  7.13 paragraphs (l)(3)(ii), (l)(4)(vi), 
(l)(7)(i) and (l)(8)(i) by replacing the terms ``the winter season of 
2010-2011'' and ``the winter of 2010-2011'' with the terms ``the winter 
season of 2011-2012'' and ``the winter of 2011-2012.'' This is the only 
change to the existing regulations.

Compliance With Other Laws and Executive Orders

Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Order 12866)

    This document is not a significant rule and the Office of 
Management and Budget has not reviewed this rule under Executive Order 
    (1) This rule will not have an effect of $100 million or more on 
the economy. It will not adversely affect in a material way the 
economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public 
health or safety, or State, local, or Tribal governments or 
    (2) This rule will not create a serious inconsistency or otherwise 
interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency. This is an 
agency specific rule.
    (3) This rule does not alter the budgetary effects of entitlements, 
grants, user-fees, or loan programs or the rights or obligations of 
their recipients.
    (4) This rule does not raise novel legal or policy issues. This 
rule only allows for a one year extension of the previous interim 

Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA)

    The Department of the Interior certifies that this document will 
not have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small 
entities under the RFA (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.).
    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, 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 two winter seasons. Under Baseline 2, 
there would be a zero net change between the past two years and the 
actions being implemented under this rule, because the rule extends the 
management framework in place the past two 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).

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 Executive Order 12630, the 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 Executive Order 13132, the 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. A Federalism summary impact statement is not required.

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 

Consultation With Indian Tribes (Executive Order 13175)

    Under the criteria in Executive Order 13175 we have evaluated this 
rule and

[[Page 77133]]

determined that it has no potential effects on federally recognized 
Indian Tribes. Numerous Tribes in the area were consulted in the 
development of the previous winter use planning documents. Their major 
concern was to reduce the adverse effects on wildlife by snowmobiles. 
This rule does that through implementation of the guiding requirements 
and disbursement of snowmobile use through the various entrance 

Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)

    This rule does not contain information collection requirements and 
a submission under the PRA is not required.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    This winter use plan and rule constitute a major Federal action 
significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. NPS 
prepared a 2011 Winter Use Plan/Environmental Impact Statement under 
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. The EIS is available for 
review at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/yell.

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, 2011, for the following reasons:
    (1) A 60-day public comment period was open from July 6, 2011, 
through September 6, 2011, on the proposed rule, which provided that 
NPS would implement this winter use plan during the winter 2011-2012 
season as a transition year. There was only one public comment related 
to implementing such a rule for the 2011-2012 season and it simply 
noted a clerical error in the number of snowcoaches NPS will allow in 
the park per day.
    (2) The rule implements the winter use plan for Yellowstone NP and 
allows for snowmobile and snowcoach use that otherwise would be 
    (3) NPS intends and has publicly stated that the 2011-2012 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 
    (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 
two years.

Drafting Information

    The primary authors of this regulation are David Jacob, 
Environmental Protection Specialist, National Park Service, and Russel 
J. Wilson, Chief Regulations and Special Park Uses, National Park 
Service, Washington, DC.

List of Subjects in 36 CFR Part 7

    National parks, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    In consideration of the foregoing, the National Park Service amends 
36 CFR part 7 as follows:


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 

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 2011-2012.
* * * * *
    (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 2011-2012.
* * * * *
    (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 2011-2012:
* * * * *
    (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 oversnow routes through the winter of 2011-2012:
* * * * *

    Dated: December 6, 2011.
Rachel Jacobson,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2011-31781 Filed 12-9-11; 8:45 am]