On June 3, the Sylvan Pass study group (made up of officials from the National Park Service and state and local government) recommended the pass be managed for avalanches rather than left to the whims of weather.
The group's recommendation was made with understanding that it would be accepted, but things weren't officially completed until yesterday, when regional NPS director Mike Snyder signed the revised Record of Decision (read the press release here).
If you need evidence that the signing was no surprise, look no further than the comments made by Wyoming's Congressional delegation...
The remarks on the date of the study group consensus (available here) and yesterday (available here) are pretty similar.
U.S. Senator John Barrasso, June 3:
“I applaud the hard work put in by our community representatives to find resolution to this issue...Today’s decision to allow access to the Park via snowmobiles and snowcoaches is the right answer.”Sen. Barrasso, July 21:
"I applaud the hard work put in by the people of Cody to keep the pass open...Continued access to the Park via snowmobiles and snowcoaches is absolutely the right answer."Of course, Park Service policies never seem to be actually "final." The NPS, environmental groups, and Park County are locked in legal battle over the number of snowmobiles allowed into the Yellowstone each day.
Environmental groups want zero, Park County wants 720, and the Park Service wants 540. Opposing lawsuits from Park County and various environmental groups will be heard in August and September.
If the Park Services' 540 number stands, the East Gate would allow a maximum of 30 snowmobiles (all with Best Available Technology) into the park each day, along with 2 additional snowcoaches.
There will be no limit on the number of buffalo.