[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 171 (Tuesday, September 4, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 53826-53829]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-21828]



National Park Service

[NPS-YELL-10569; 2310-0070-422]

36 CFR Part 7

RIN 1024-AE10

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

AGENCY: National Park Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.


SUMMARY: This rule would implement an amended Record of Decision for 
the 2011 Winter Use Plan/Environmental Impact Statement and would 
govern winter visitation and certain recreational activities in 
Yellowstone National Park for the 2012-2013 winter season. The rule 
proposes to retain, 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 
would retain 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: Comments must be received by October 4, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit your comments, identified by Regulation 
Identifier Number (RIN) 1024-AE10, by any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail: Yellowstone National Park, Winter Use Proposed Rule, 
P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190.
     Hand Deliver to: Management Assistant's Office, 
Headquarters Building, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, 
    All submissions received must include the agency name and RIN. For 
additional information see ``Public Participation'' under SUPPLEMENTARY 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Wade Vagias, Management Assistant's 
Office, Headquarters Building, Yellowstone National Park, 307-344-2035 
or at the address listed in the ADDRESSES section.



    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, which expired by its own terms on March 15, 2012, 
had extended for one

[[Page 53827]]

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.
    On July 5, 2011, the NPS published a proposed long-term rule to 
implement the preferred alternative identified in the Draft 
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 
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 has been robust. A majority of the 
substantive comments have 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 have 
requested additional time to consider this new management concept and 
to respond substantively to it. Accordingly, the NPS has decided to 
reopen public comment on the Draft SEIS for an additional 30 days. 
Mindful of the short amount of time left before the December 15, 2012, 
opening of the 2012-2013 winter season and desiring to take the time 
necessary to make a reasoned, sustainable long-term decision on winter 
use, the NPS has decided to amend the December 2011 ROD. Utilizing the 
analyses contained in Alternative 2 in the 2011 FEIS and updated 
information gathered during the 2011-2012 winter season, the NPS is 
promulgating this new rule to extend for one additional winter season 
the 2011-2012 daily entry limits and operating requirements. The 
purpose of this publication is to solicit public comment on the NPS's 
decision to amend the December 2011 ROD and on the new proposed one-
season rule.

Section by Section Analysis

    The NPS is proposing to revise 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.'' This would be the only change 
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 
significant because it will raise novel legal or policy issues.
    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 
    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

[[Page 53828]]

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 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. A Federalism summary impact statement is not 

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 and Department 

    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 
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 1024-0129 (expires 09/30/2013). 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 Winter Use Plan/Environmental 
Impact Statement under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. 
The NPS is reexamining the analyses contained in the 2011 EIS, as well 
as new data from the 2011-2012 winter season, and intends to amend the 
December 2011 ROD (76 FR 77249) to authorize extending the current 
winter use management frame work for an additional year. 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 

Clarity of This Regulation

    We are required by Executive Orders 12866 (section 1 (b)(12)), 
12988 (section 3(b)(1)(B)), and 13563 (section 1(a)), and by the 
Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain 
language. This means that each rule we publish must:
    (a) Be logically organized;
    (b) Use the active voice to address readers directly;
    (c) Use common, everyday words and clear language rather than 
    (d) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and
    (e) Use lists and tables wherever possible.
    If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us 
comments by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. To 
better help us revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as 
possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections 
or paragraphs that you find unclear, which sections or sentences are 
too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be useful, 

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

Length of the Comment Period

    This proposed rule is available for public review and comment for a 
period of 30 days. Under more typical circumstances the NPS would 
normally provide a 60-day comment period. In this case, new issues 
raised in the course of preparing the 2011 EIS necessitated the 
completion of a Supplemental EIS, resulting in the need for an 
expedited rulemaking process to authorize winter use during the 
upcoming winter season. For this regulation, we have determined that in 
order for a final rule to become effective by December 15, 2012, it is 
necessary to reduce the normal review and comment period to 30 days.
    Good cause exists for the shortened comment period for the 
following reasons:
    (1) 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, 
and a relatively small number of new issues are being raised.
    (2) Since at least December 2011 the NPS has in good faith publicly 
stated that the 2012-2013 winter season for Yellowstone would commence 
on or about December 15, 2012, and the public and businesses have made 
decisions based on the widespread public knowledge of this opening 
    (3) 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 

[[Page 53829]]

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.
    (4) 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 proposes to amend 36 CFR 
part 7 as set forth below:


    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 DC Code 10-137 (2001) and DC Code 50-2201 (2001).

    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 

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

    Dated: August 30, 2012.
Michael Bean,
Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and 
[FR Doc. 2012-21828 Filed 8-31-12; 8:45 am]