One of the most gorgeous places in Yellowstone National Park is the area surrounding Yellowstone Lake. There a mix of wilderness-quality vistas and the self-contained Lake Village offer a varied experience for park visitors. How should the Park Service manage this mix in the years to come?
That's a question park officials now are taking up through the preparation of an environmental assessment that will chart the future for how visitors and natural resources in the areas surrounding Lake Village, Fishing Bridge, and Bridge Bay are managed.
Currently, there's a wide array of things to do and experience in the area, whether it's fishing, hiking, boating, watching wildlife, or just relaxing in the charming Lake Hotel.
Identifying ways to protect the wealth of resources in the area, while enhancing the visitor experience and accommodating park operational needs, will require significant evaluation and analysis, park officials said in a release.
In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, Yellowstone officials will prepare an environmental assessment for the Lake area.
"The purpose of the EA is to provide an increased understanding of resources through conducting and documenting resources, focusing on resource protection, and addressing visitor connections to the resources," the release explained. "The process will evaluate alternative proposals and potential impacts to multiple resources, including natural, cultural, and scenic resources, as well as visitor use and experience, park operations, and public health and safety.
"The first step is to solicit public suggestions and comments during what is known as the scoping period. Any interested individual, organization, or agency can provide thoughtful, relevant information or suggestions for consideration by the NPS before the draft environmental assessment is prepared and made available for public review and comment. Individuals, groups, and agencies have until August 6, 2010, to submit written comments on the purpose, need and objectives, and the issues and alternatives they would like considered in the new plan. Scoping for the Lake Area Comprehensive Plan concludes August 6."
Open house meetings will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, July 20, at Lake in the Mess Hall; Wednesday, July 21, in Cody, Wyoming, at the Holiday Inn; and Wednesday, July 28, in Bozeman, Montana, at the Bozeman Public Library. A short presentation will be followed by an open house at each meeting location.
Additional details on the proposal and an electronic form to submit comments on the internet can be found at the National Park Service’s Planning, Environmental and Public Comment (PEPC) website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/yell, or by contacting the Comprehensive Planning and Design Office, Lake Area Comprehensive Plan, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190.
Written comments may be submitted through the PEPC website, in person, or by mail. Comments will not be accepted over the phone, by fax, or e-mail. All public comments must be received or postmarked by midnight MDT, August 6.